Fisheries managers gathered in Estonia for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation annual meeting last week, once again failed to take the ‘urgent action’ against destructive fishing practices called for by the United Nations, apparently deciding instead to develop guidelines on gathering data and review existing research. ‘NAFO “fiddling while Rome burns” with their reform agenda’ was the headline of the Greenpeace press release lamenting the outcome of last week’s meeting (1). In spite of three reports highly critical of the performance of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) released this year (2), including that of an advisory body appointed by the Canadian government which called for NAFO to be scrapped entirely to make way for a more modern organisation, NAFO has decided to reform itself with the launch of a review of its convention and a series of “first steps towards an ecosystem approach” (3).
Regional Fisheries Management Organization
The jewel in the crown of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) is failing, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) said at today’s opening of the NAFO annual general assembly in Estonia.
The once rich groundfish resources of the Grand Bank have been decimated. The organisation responsible – the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) is fatally flawed, has lost all credibility and must be scrapped, says a report commissioned by the Canadian government, underlining the urgency of international calls for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling. “NAFO has been particularly ineffective in managing the stocks under its aegis… to the point that the Panel views its replacement by a more modern organization as a minimum requirement for achieving susbtainability of groundfish resources in the Grand Banks area,” says the Advisory Panel on the Sustainable Management of Straddling Fish Stocks in the Northwest Atlantic (APSS) (1) in its report (2).
Called ‘Moving from Words to Actions’, it was hailed as the meeting where fisheries ministers would take action to conserve the high seas. But the Ministerial declaration released yesterday from the Canadian High Seas Governance Conference in St. John’s Newfoundland completely ignores the issue of environmental destruction caused by bottom trawling, fails to protect habitats or make commitments to specific actions, and does not set deadlines.
On 18 and 19 April, Dr. Sylvia Earle met with Spanish scientists and government officials to advocate that Spain, a major fishing nation, has an opportunity to act constructively for the conservation of deep sea marine biodiversity by supporting a UN General Assembly moratorium on high seas bottom trawling.
In a letter to EU Fisheries Minister Franz Fischler and the External Affairs, Environment and Fisheries Ministers of all EU Member States, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition expressed deep concern “if the European Union were to advocate that the UN FAO and/or Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) take the lead in resolving this issue.”
New York – Many countries are failing to live up to their commitments to the United Nations (UN) to protect vulnerable deep sea species and ecosystems, according to two reports released today ahead of a two day debate on deep sea fisheries by the UN in New York.
In spite of the failure of the European Union to take a leadership role to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems, the United Nations Informal Consultative Process on the Law of the Seas (UNICPOLOS) called on countries to accelerate action to protect deep-sea ecosystems and deal with the impact of bottom trawl fishing on the high seas.