Deep Sea 2003 Conference points to way ahead for sustainable fisheries
11 December 2003
Scientists gathered for the Deep Sea 2003 in Queenstown last week recognised the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) as one of the best international examples of a regional fisheries management organisation, says conference convenor and Chief Scientist for the Ministry of Fisheries, Dr John Annala.
Fisheries in the Ross Sea near the ice cap are in the early stages of development and are being managed in a precautionary and sustainable manner. However vessels fishing illegally in northern parts of the CCAMLR zone continue to be a problem and current estimates are that more fish are taken illegally than legally.
CCAMLR arrangements include a licensing scheme restricting the number of vessels allowed to fish in Antarctic waters and Dr Annala said that vessels fishing legally provided one of the best deterrents to illegal fishers, along with surveillance operations.
The Deep Sea 2003 conference had also discussed accelerating initiatives to remove subsidies paid to the fishing industries of other countries and reducing over capacity in the world wide fishing fleet. New Zealand is one of only a handful of nations whose fisheries are profitable and efficient and do not receive subsidies.
Other suggestions debated at the conference included a proposal to ban deep-sea bottom trawling and implementing a series of marine protected areas on the high seas. There was considerable concern expressed at the conference about the effects of fishing on deep-sea environments.
Short-term actions are likely to include the use of existing international organisations, such as CCAMLR, to regulate the activities of fishing vessels on the high seas and prohibit destructive fishing methods in sensitive areas.
In the medium term new international arrangements will be developed to control the impacts of fishing on deepwater areas. Longer term this may lead to a global framework to manage the impacts of fishing in the deep seas of the world's oceans.
The Deep Sea conference report will be delivered by the Governments of New Zealand and Australia to the next meeting of the FAO on fisheries in February, 2005.
For further information please contact Dr John Annala, Chief Scientist, Ministry of Fisheries tel. 027 443 1054