Sure we’ll protect deep-sea fishes…uuhhh we changed our mind

The meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization, which concluded today, left conservation organizations disappointed with the failure of NAFO countries to live up to their international commitments to protect the high seas. In 2006, they all agreed through a United Nations General Assembly resolution to conduct environmental impact assessments of deep-sea fishing and to protect deep-sea species and biodiversity. The UN resolution was a response to a call by conservation organizations and others for a moratorium on bottom trawling on the high seas.

“NAFO countries agreed they would assess the impacts of high seas bottom fishing by December 31st, 2008 or else stop fishing, according to the 2006 UN resolution. In 2008, NAFO countries themselves agreed to submit assessments for the 2009 fishery. They didn’t, and they still haven’t done so as far as we can tell. Without assessments, they won’t know what the impact of fishing will be nor can they manage bottom fisheries to ensure minimal impact on sensitive deep-sea ecosystems,” said Susanna Fuller of the Ecology Action Centre, an observer at the meeting.

via PR-USA.net – Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization Comes up Short on Protecting the Deep Sea.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (http://www.scienceofthesouth.com/), connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

One comment on “Hypocrites
  1. Disappointing, but predictable. However, a simple solution could have been NAFO taking the position that “studies don’t exist unless they’re produced.” Of course, that would be a non-starter politically though, since it would make the whole RFMO therefore be in non-compliance with the UN mandate.

    That being said, most assessment attempts on bycatch species (e.g., sailfish in western Atlantic pelagic longline fisheries) have been inconclusive at best on actual stock numbers, and instead have been used as exercises to evaluate trends. This is due to poor data collection, with most member countries still not having adequate fisheries observer coverage. Get that good coverage, over broad temporal/spatial scales, and the assessments will likely come out in time regardless of the politics.

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