The Southern Ocean and Fish

30 Mar

Fish are a major economic consideration. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation say that the export value of the fish trade was over £85 billion in 2012.

A large proportion of the fish trade comes from Southern Oceans and since consumer demand is expected to increase, monitoring of the industry is of paramount importance.
Illegal, Unreported or Unregulated fishing (IUU), is a major problem.

In 1982 the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (the CCAMLR) was agreed, originally as a response to increased harvesting on Antarctic krill, essential for the Antarctic ecosystem. Additionally, emphasis was placed on the protection of the vulnerable marine environments against exploitation and on conservation of the fisheries in the South by balancing exploitation with a protection programme that allowed harvesting to be carried out in a sustainable manner.

This agreement was signed by 14 states and ratified (May 2013), by 35 states including the United Kingdom. There are three Standing Committees.

Achievements are listed as:
1. Challenge of IUU fishing,

2. Establishing a Marine Protected Area (MPE) in the Southern Ocean,

3. Reduce unintentional sea bird mortality (effectively reduced to virtually zero in 2013 years by scientific and political co-operation).

4. Managing Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems. (MVE).

Professor Klaus Dodds writes in the ‘Geographical’ of March 2015, of the difficulties inherent in this supervision. The Southern Ocean obviously attracts IUU fishing.
Its vast size makes regulation difficult, costly and at times thankless. He gives examples of such illegal activity and explains how ships registered in one country, can in fact be part of another country’s fishing syndicate (which may have a dispersed commercial footprint). To counteract this, the CCAMLR has introduced more surveillance and also co-operates with governments and consumers with the aim of increasing awareness of the damage done by IUU fishing.

But clearly big challenges, legal, political and basic practicalities will continue and we should be all aware of these problems. In a very small way avoiding purchasing endangered species of fish such as Dover Sole is a tiny step.

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