This year’s CCAMLR meeting (CCAMLR-XXVI), held in Hobart, Australia, from 22 October to 2 November adopted a Conservation Measure on bottom fishing, which maintains the existing stop on new bottom fishing activities and prioritises the necessary research and data collection to allow full development of appropriate management measures for vulnerable marine ecosystems in line with UNGA Res 61/105 at next year’s CCAMLR meeting.
Substantive progress had been made at the 2006 meeting, through the setting of interim limits on the bottom trawling fishery to existing high seas areas of the Convention Area for 2006/07 and 2007/08 seasons (CM22-05), banning the use of gillnetting in the Area (CM22-04). The Commission had also tasked the Scientific Committee to review the criteria for determining what constitutes significant harm to benthos and benthic communities (CM22-05; CCAMLR-XXV para 11.25-11.37). The 2006 UNGA Resolution on bottom fishing required CCAMLR to revisit their 2006 decision and take further action.
The Commission supported the urgency for CCAMLR to address UNGA Resolution 61/105, with many Parties speaking specifically in favour of a Conservation Measure. Japan, supported by others, made considerable effort to ensure that definitions will be clearly and tightly defined so as to ensure that not all vulnerable marine ecosystems are removed from fishing activity, and stressed the need to ensure that all relevant regulations are flexible, workable and non-confusing. Russia held up agreement on the Conservation Measure, until it was eventually explained to them that if CCAMLR did not act on the UN Resolution by December 2008, then all bottom fishing in the Convention Area would have to stop for the following season.
The Conservation Measure will be reviewed at the next year’s meeting of the Commission, based upon the findings of the Scientific Committee, and from 2009 and biennially thereafter, the Commission will have a standing agenda item to examine the impact of relevant conservation measures in protecting vulnerable marine ecosystems form significant adverse impacts.