A new publication by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and TRAFFIC confirms the position of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) that regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) are not a panacea to stop the devastation of vulnerable deep-sea marine ecosystems by bottom trawlers operating on the high seas. (1)
A new study published in Nature has revealed serious declines in deep water species targeted for commercial fishing in the Northwest Atlantic. The study examined population trends in five species of deep water fish along the continental slope in the Atlantic waters of Canada caught in research trawl surveys between the period 1978 and 1994. Of those studied, two species – the roundnose grenadier and the onion-eye or roughhead grenadier – are commercially valuable. The remaining three species – blue hake, spiny eel and spinytail skate – are taken as bycatch in other fisheries, primarily the deep-water trawl fisheries for Greenland halibut and redfish.
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).
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).