Governments fail to prevent over-fishing

Many are ignoring scientific advice and increasing catches rather than enforcing wise management, revealed a report from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade-monitoring network that was released this week. Many fish stocks have collapsed or are on the brink of commercial extinction despite efforts within some regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs). RFMOs are the main mechanism developed by States to regulate fishing on the high seas – the areas of ocean beyond national laws. The report, ‘Follow the Leader: Learning from experience and best practice in regional fisheries management organisations’ illustrated both effective and ineffective practices while also outlining how RFMOs can work smarter and better. “Vast over-capacity in authorised fleets, over-fishing of stocks, the virtual absence of robust rebuilding strategies and a lack of precaution where information is lacking or uncertain are all characteristic of the management regimes currently in place,” it said. Over the last decade the management of high seas stocks has been challenged by the expansion of bottom-trawling into deep water to target new stocks. With most RFMOs slow to adopt management measures for these fisheries, many deep-sea populations, such as orange roughy, have collapsed. Meanwhile, Fisheries and Marine Resource Minister Dr Abraham Iyambo during his motivation speech for 2006/07 financial year in Parliament recently raised alarm over a lack of the country’s monitoring, controlling and surveillance programme of fishing activities. He requested an amount of N.dollars 77,434 million for this programme.The key areas to be covered included the deployment of fisheries inspectors, routine operations as well as maintenance and insurance of surveillance equipment such as patrol aircraft and vessels. “The required allocation also includes funds budgeted for the operations of the Fisheries Observer Agency. The agency is mainly funded by the observer levies paid by the fishing industry. However, due to hardship faced by the industry, the income to the agency has dwindled, compromising the sustainability of our monitoring, control and surveillance enforcement activities. Therefore, an increase in the financial contribution to the agency is necessary to ensure its continuing existence and effective operations,” Iyambo noted. He emphasised that his ministry implemented training programmes through the Namibian Maritime and Fisheries Institute (NAMFI) at Walvis Bay, which meets the rigorous international standards. Iyambo added that his ministry trained many marine scientists, economists, engineers, environmental experts and pilots but due to non-competitive salary structures they left for greener pastures. ‘ NAMPA.

May 2006
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