New North Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization in the Works

Date: March 4, 2011

The DSCC together with representatives from the National Resources Defense Council, the Living Oceans Society, the David Suzuki Foundation and Oceana attended the 10th Multilateral Meeting on the Management of High Seas Fisheries in the North Pacific Ocean. The negotiations concluded on March 4 with the countries involved — the US, Canada, Japan, Russia, China, Korea as well as Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) — concluding an agreement, yet to be formally adopted, for a new North Pacific fisheries management organization.

In its opening statement, the DSCC highlighted the need to establish interim measures for the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems on the high seas in the Northeast Pacific. The DSCC also called for a review of the impact assessments that had been done by Japan, Korea and Russia for the deep-sea fisheries in the Northwest Pacific. The impact assessments, all done in 2008, were inconclusive as to whether significant adverse impacts to deep-sea species and vulnerable marine ecosystems would or would not occur. Nevertheless, in spite of the scientific uncertainty, high seas bottom fishing along the Emperor seamount chain continues to be authorized with few constraints. In the view of the DSCC, the scientific uncertainties need to be resolved. This includes through comprehensive surveys of the Emperor seamount chain to ensure that any continued bottom fishing in the region does not destroy or damage corals, sponges and other deep-sea habitat forming species.

Although there was no comitment to review the imact assessments, the countries involved did adopt an ‘interim measures’ agreement to manage deep-sea fisheries on the high seas of the Northeast Pacific consistent with the UN General Assembly resolutions. At the conclusion of the meeting, Oceana, NRDC, and the DSCC released a press release.

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