A brief description of marine regional fishery bodies (RFBs) and regional seas conventions (RSCs) is presented, noting the origins, status, geographic coverage and basis for consideration of ecosystem approach by each. Establishment of RFBs has taken place throughout the past century, and most created since adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982 have clear management functions. Although only a small proportion have specific ecosystem-related mandates, all have scope to consider this approach in some form. Current challenges include developing the concept, objectives, indicators, reference points and implementation mechanisms, as appropriate in a climate of cooperation with other international organizations and each other.
Establishment of RSCs began relatively recently, in 1972. The eleven major regional seas conventions in force that are designed for the protection of the marine environment are mostly in the form of “comprehensive framework conventions”. Their protocols and annexes specify the concrete measures expected to be implemented by the parties, and “Action Plans” relate to all issues relevant to the development and protection of the marine environment and their resources. Periodic revisions of the Action Plans broadened their scope to emphasise issues contained in Agenda 21, such as integrated management. With a few exceptions, issues related to fisheries are among the only major issues that are not covered, or are covered only in a marginal way, by the action plans.
The development of the concept and rationale of ecosystem-based management of fisheries is described. Although broad ecosystem objectives appear in international instruments, and the approach forms part of some national laws/strategies and has been considered at global conferences, the practical application of the concept has only recently emerged as the subject of international attention. Two leading examples are the March 1999 symposium on “Ecosystem Effects of Fishing” convened by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), and the planned September, 2001 Reykjavik Conference on Responsible Fisheries in the Ecosystem. It is considered that implementation of the ecosystem approach would prompt changes to institutional, training, capacity, information, monitoring, evaluation, governance and regulatory requirements.
General provisions of the RSCs, and structure and strategies of the action plans are covered, noting that the latter usually include five main components: environmental assessment; environmental management; environmental legislation; institutional arrangements and financial arrangements. Five RSCs are described which contribute to the goals of fisheries management by dealing with the control of land-based sources and activities that may have deleterious effects on the marine environment, including its living resources. In almost all regions intensive monitoring of the quality of the marine environment is carried out, and the data can provide good background information for fisheries management.
Activities of RFBs relating to ecosystem-based management are described. The work of three leading RFBs is profiled, and a synthesis of RFBs’ action presented. In general, the RFBs’ activities relate to: the impact of fisheries on the ecosystem; the impact of other sectors on fisheries; the impact of climate and ozone depletion on fisheries; and ecosystem monitoring.
Actions for future consideration by RFBs include defining ecosystem objectives in parallel with the current conservation objectives of fisheries management. It is suggested that the new objectives should address biodiversity, habitat productivity and marine environmental quality. Some additional needs include the definition of indicators and reference points, and new monitoring activities and data products for the indicators.
The relationship and mutual relevance of the work carried out by RFBs and RSCs is reviewed, especially in areas relating to biodiversity of species, habitat, marine environmental quality, climate change, land-based pollution of the marine environment, and in the monitoring and assessment which applies to these areas.
It is suggested that as ecosystem considerations and indicator frameworks are increasingly factored into fisheries management, the funcitonalities of RFBs and RSCs will need to be adapted in a practical, cost-effective way to meet future needs. This could be done in a way that would not overburden either RFBs or RSCs, and build on current programmes. Some examples of activities which could form a basis for practical cooperation are suggested.
Taking into account current activities of RFBs and RSCs, as well as the experience gained through the cooperation already established between some RFBs and RSCs, concrete suggestions are made for options that may lead to enhanced cooperation on ecosystem-based fishery management.
1. The ecosystem approach to management of the oceans and their resources was consolidated in Agenda 21. Review and coordination of implementation of this area among United Nations agencies is facilitated by the Subcommittee on Ocean and Coastal Areas (SOCA) of the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development. They operate under the umbrella of the UN Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC).
2. At its ninth session in July, 2000 SOCA considered the relevance of the regional setting for improving coordination among different UN programmes addressing different aspects of Coastal and Ocean Management. Its purpose was the exploration of new ways to integrate the work of the agencies and, in particular, to look for synergies between regional organizations respectively competent for fisheries, and for the marine and coastal environment. It was felt that the challenge posed by the development of ecosystem approaches to fisheries management and integrated coastal management could be considered by both types of bodies as a potential platform for practical cooperation.
3. As a first step in this direction it was agreed that a paper centered around ecosystem based management in fisheries would be jointly developed by FAO and UNEP. If agreed by both sets of participants, this paper would be presented at the 3rd Global Meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions (RSCs), organized by UNEP in Monaco 6-9 November 2000 and the 2nd Meeting of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations to be convened by FAO in February 2001. The need for such coordination has also been recognized by marine regional fishery bodies (RFBs) and UNEP in the recent past.
4. The purpose of this paper is to present considerations which can serve as the basis for potential cooperation between RFBs and RSCs. It describes the concept of ecosystem-based fisheries management, the relevant mandates and activities of RFBs and RFCs and the relationship and mutual relevance of their work. Possible mechanisms for cooperation, and issues for future consideration, are identified. It is anticipated that such cooperation would be best carried out on a site-specific or regional basis, after the initial consideration at global level by RFBs and RSCs.
5. The tragedy of the commons - the overuse of common fishery resources because of the absence of a sufficiently strong system of cooperative and rational management - is the classic challenge to fisheries governance. The phenomenon often results from massive over-investment and subsidies in fisheries. The commons present, however, not only a tragedy but perhaps also an opportunity.
6. National authorities alone cannot protect areas that do not fall within their jurisdiction. International cooperation and legal regimes are the only ways by which global fisheries governance can be achieved effectively, although the problems obviously differ greatly from one region to another.
7. The need for such international cooperation contributed to the establishment of the first recorded marine RFB, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), in 1902. ICES has, as its mandate, the development of cooperation in scientific studies of the Northweast Atlantic marine environment and its resources through cooperation among scientists. It is an advisory body, with an ecosystem reach.
8. Following the establishment of ICES, a number of other RFBs were established including, notably: the International Commission for Scientific Exploration of the Mediterranean Sea in 1919 and the North American Council for Fishery Investigations in 1920. The findings of these bodies led to regulatory action through the conclusion of a number of conventions. ICES and some of the other bodies established in the first half of the century, particularly before 1945, concentrated their efforts on the generation of scientific information and the promotion of scientific cooperation with emphasis on the conservation of fishery resources.
9. During the second half of the century, however, world fisheries governance has been radically and rapidly transformed through a series of international initiatives with a corresponding increase in the number of regional fishery bodies, the mandates of which exceed, in many cases, those assigned to bodies established earlier in the century.
10. The process began with the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a specialized Agency of the United Nations in 1945 with a clear mandate to contribute to the development and management of fisheries at the international, regional and national levels. This was followed by the First UN Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in Geneva in 1958. The four Geneva Conventions adopted by the First UNCLOS marked an important shift in the long history of high seas fishing at least in two main respects: the freedom to fish became clearly restricted by the duty to cooperate in the conservation of fishery resources and the collective responsibility of States in the conservation and utilisation of high seas resources was strengthened. The Geneva Conventions were revised and markedly expanded by the Third UNCLOS which concluded the work with the adoption of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
11. In the past one hundred years approximately forty regional fishery bodies have been established. The evolution of these bodies corresponds to the three distinct phases of the evolution of international fisheries in the twentieth century: the pre-UNCLOS period 1902-1950, the Law of the Sea negotiating period 1951-1982, and the post-Third UNCLOS period.
12. Most bodies established in the pre-UNCLOS period such as ICES lay emphasis on the gathering of scientific information and the promotion of scientific collaboration. Several bodies established during the Law of the Sea negotiating phase have basically advisory powers but may also have regulatory powers with respect to conservation and management issues, whereas almost all bodies established after the adoption of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention have clear management functions.
13. There are presently 27 active marine regional fishery bodies, seven of which have been established under the FAO Constitution. A list of these RFBs appears in Annex 1. FAO has also facilitated the establishment of several of the other bodies and serves as the depository for the instrument of acceptance of such bodies. FAO bodies are established either under Article VI or Article XIV of the FAO Constitution.
14. In addition to regional fishery bodies, some regional economic organizations usually termed “Arrangements” are also concerned with specific aspects of fisheries.
15. The mandates of RFBs may be either to (i) provide advice (i.e., advisory functions), and/or (ii) take decisions concerning the conservation, sustainable management and use of one or more species, as well as the affiliated aspects of fisheries in a defined region or sub-region (i.e. regulatory functions). Many regional fishery bodies are currently reviewing and adapting their mandates to address emerging issues enumerated in recent international instruments.
16. Some RFBs have mandates based on geographic areas, and others have mandates for specific species, usually together with a description of the geographic area where they occur. The geographical area of RFBs may cover high seas and/or members’ zones of national jurisdiction. All oceans, and some major seas, are covered by RFBs. The geographical areas of RFBs and RSCs appear superimposed on the map in Annex 2.
Basis for Consideration by RFBs
of Ecosystem Approach
17. Very few RFBs have direct reference to an ecosystem approach to fisheries or species management in their conventions or other mandate, but all have scope to consider it in some form.
18. The first meeting of FAO and non-FAO Regional Fishery Bodies in February, 1999 addressed two areas which relate to the ecosystem approach – international instruments and the exchange of information and other collaboration. These included:
19. Discussion at the meeting indicated increasing collaboration among RFBs on a range of issues relevant to ecosystem approach to fisheries management. In particular, the topic of ecosystem considerations was included in discussions of common problems and possible solutions. In this context, some RFBs reported that the bycatch and discard issues were being examined, but difficulties are being experienced in implementing ecosystem management. It was suggested that a subsequent meeting of RFBs could consider relevant themes such as pollution and environmental degradation, aquaculture and the introduction of foreign and transgenic species on fisheries and fisheries management.
20. Although many RFBs are rapidly making improvements in responding to new approaches to fisheries management, many challenges remain, especially developing the concept, objectives and implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. This will call for increased cooperation among each other, and with other international organizations and programmes.
22. The first agreement of this type was successfully negotiated and adopted in 1972 (Oslo Convention). A strong boost to the development of similar agreements was given by the United Nations Conference on Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972) and by the negotiations of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
23. UNEP played a leading role in initiating or supporting the negotiations of a number of regional seas conventions and provided the initial financial resources needed for their implementation, but there is also a number of conventions that evolved without UNEP's assistance.
24. Presently, there are eleven major regional seas conventions in force that are designed for the protection of the marine environment: Helsinki (1974), Barcelona (1976), Kuwait (1978), Abidjan (1981), Lima (1981), Jeddah (1982) Cartagena (1983), Nairobi (1985), Noumea (1986), Bucharest (1992) and OSPAR (1992) . In addition to the conventions in force, there are two regional seas conventions under negotiation: one for the Caspian Sea and another for the Northeast Pacific. Information on the major regional seas conventions and agreements that may be relevant to the possibilities of cooperation with RFBs on enhancement of an ecosystem-based management of fisheries appears in Annex 3.
25. The conventions cover the maritime areas under the jurisdiction of the contracting parties to these conventions, with the exclusion of internal waters in most cases. However, some conventions or the provisions of certain protocols or annexes associated with the conventions also apply to internal waters and, in one instance, even to the hydrologic basin and ground waters associated with the convention area.
Basic provisions of the conventions
26. Most of the regional seas conventions considered in the present document, particularly those negotiated under the aegis of UNEP, are in the form of "comprehensive framework conventions", with articles of quite general nature which in themselves would have been of little practical value. However, these conventions are supplemented with several protocols and annexes specifying the concrete measures expected to be implemented by the contracting parties.
27. A number of regional conventions, particularly those adopted in early 1970s, were amended or even entirely revised in order to reflect the broadening concern of the contracting parties for the complex problems of the marine environment. The most radical change was the merging of two conventions into a new convention. Further revisions and amendments are being considered for some conventions.
28. The evolving concern for the protection of the marine environment is reflected in the various protocols and annexes that have been associated with the conventions. Initially they focused on cooperation in cases of pollution emergencies and control of pollution caused by dumping but today they cover a much broader gamut of issues.
Action plans: programmes of implementation
29. All regional seas conventions are associated with specific programmes (most frequently in the form of an "Action Plan") supporting the implementation of the convention and protocols provisions. While the focus of the first action plans was on the protection of the marine environment from pollution, the subsequently adopted action plans shifted their priorities to all issues relevant to the development and protection of the marine environment and their resources. The periodic revisions of the action plans broadened their scope in order to emphasise issues related to integrated management and use of coastal and marine environment along the lines recommended by Agenda 21 adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). In some regions determined efforts are being made to pay more attention to the specific problems of small island states, to the management of associated river basins and to the potential effects of climate change.
30. With a few exceptions, issues related to fisheries are among the only major issues that are not specifically covered, or are covered only in a marginal way, by the action plans.
31. The periodic meetings of the contracting parties to the regional seas conventions or, when the action plans are not associated with such conventions, periodic high-level intergovernmental meetings represent the highest authority guiding the action plans, determining the priorities which should be dealt by the plans and allocating the financial resources to these activities.
Secretariats and coordination
32. UNEP provides the secretariat for four conventions and seven action plans described in the present document, either directly through its Headquarters or through semiautonomous "regional coordinating units" managed by UNEP. The other seven conventions and action plans have secretariats established and maintained by the contracting parties to these conventions.
33. The concept and rationale of ecosystem-based management of fisheries – which takes into account the interrelationships between the planet’s web of life and ongoing human action - emerged in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Although specific reference to “ecosystem” management only appears in relation to rare or fragile ecosystems, the provisions on fisheries management describe ecosystem-like considerations to be taken into account, such as associated and dependent species, interdependence of stocks and minimum standards at all levels. Instruments agreed at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development – Agenda 21 and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – refer more specifically to the ecosystem approach, and this was carried forward by the 1995 United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement and the 1995 Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The latter calls for the integration of fisheries into coastal area management, including the fragility of coastal ecosystems.
34. The concept has been adopted by some RFBs and national governments. In addition, global conferences on fisheries have, over the past decade, identified concerns which could be addressed in part by an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. The recently developed International Plans of Action (IPOAs) on various aspects of fishing reflect countries’ determination to manage a range of important issues with ecosystem implications in compliance with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
35. ICES convened a Symposium in March, 1999 on the Ecosystem Effects of Fishing. It contributed significantly to the understanding of the concept and offers some practical guidance on the application of the ecosystem approach. The value of the Symposium’s work is further enhanced by what appeared to be the broad consensus that:
“the present approach to achieving conservation objectives of fisheries activities, even if successfully implemented, would not achieve yet to be defined ecosystem objectives. There is not, however, consensus amongst scientists on what additional restrictions are required, nor on what features of ecosystems need to be protected.”
36. Although the concept of ecosystem-based management of fisheries has been adopted by some RFBs, their approaches vary, as noted in Part IV of this paper. In general, they are concerned about the impacts from other sectors affecting fisheries, including land-based pollution and habitat, as well as the impacts of non-sustainable fishing techniques and practices on the ecosystem. In addition, considerations relating to biodiversity and the effect of climate on the fisheries are recognized as important.
37. It is evident that the fisheries ecosystem is extremely complicated. Most ecosystems contain a great number of species, and the number of potential biological and economic interactions increases exponentially with the number of species.
38. There is currently no consensus on criteria for defining ecosystem overfishing, nor on a hierarchy of biological attributes for which ecosystems should be managed. However, it has been suggested that ecosystem considerations may be incorporated into fisheries management by modifying existing overfishing paradigms or by developing new approaches to account for ecosystem structure and function in relation to harvesting. In particular, existing concepts of overfishing do not provide direct guidance on issues such as biodiversity, serial depletion, habitat degradation and changes in the food web caused by fishing.
39. It has been suggested that ecosystem considerations do not need to substitute for existing overfishing concepts. Instead, they should be used to evaluate and modify primary management guidance for important fisheries and species. In practice they emphasize the need to manage fishing capacity, supported by broader use of technical measures such as marine protected areas and gear restrictions.
40. Finally the concept of ecosystem management is related to the question of geographical boundaries of the ecosystem. Their definition can be a somewhat arbitrary process, dependent upon the particular interests of the ecologists and the details of the issue being addressed. An appropriate approach would need to be adopted for consideration of specific ecosystem features and associated human activities that would accommodate areas which may be larger or smaller than needed for ecosystem and fisheries considerations.
41. Recent international instruments describe broad ecosystem objectives for the marine environment:
43. It has been suggested that the biodiversity objective will need to include several components, such as ecosystem and species diversity, genetic variability within species and species at risk. The habitat productivity objective will need to address directly impacted species, ecologically dependent species and trophic level considerations. Once the objectives are set, the next steps are to provide the respective performance measures and reference points. Examples of ecosystem objectives, indicators and reference points are shown in Annex 4.
44. Implementation of such objectives will require strengthened monitoring systems, evaluation processes and governance.
45. The advantages of an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management both meet, and extend beyond the realms of sustainable fisheries, biodiversity, habitat protection, and all other objectives described above.
46. The ecosystem approach acknowledges the paradigm shift in the management of all natural resources, and the increasing need to integrate fisheries and environment management objectives, as well as human and ecosystem well-being. Movement towards such integration, coupled with a precautionary approach, would allow managers to distance themselves from the current “fire fighting approach” in favour of a more holistic approach.
47. Taking into account the functions of marine ecosystems to convert and transfer solar energy, and sustain all life on the planet, an ecosystem approach would encourage the scientific community to proactively quantify potential effects of fishing and other activities on the energy flow through marine ecosystems. Assessment of the potential effects of other human activities on the fisheries resource would also be encouraged.
48. The ecosystem approach to fisheries and environmental management would gather energy, inspiring development of appropriate scientific and related standards. It would also prompt changes to institutional, training, capacity, information, monitoring, evaluation, governance and regulatory requirements. It could serve as a model for environmental management of other sectors whose activities affect, and are affected by, the marine environment. It would also be costly while keeping scientists in jobs.
49. Ecosystem management is enhanced by the coming Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, designed to determine the condition of global ecosystems and to analyze the capacity of an ecosystem to provide goods and services important for human development. When the capacity is diminished, fisheries and those dependent on them are affected.
50. One benefit of this integrated ecosystem assessment programme is that it provides the information necessary to weigh trade-offs among various goods and services and to identify opportunities for benefits. Information and data collected in ecosystem-based fisheries management could be input into this assessment, and the relative importance of fisheries strengthened.
D. Impact of non-Fishery Activities on
51. Assessment and management of the impact of non-fishery activities on the ecosystem is important to ecosystem-based fisheries management. Where marine environmental concerns once centered on pollution, it is now recognized that pollution is neither the only, nor necessarily the most severe threat to the health of oceans and coasts. A range of human activities are producing devastating effects on the marine environment, as described in detail by the Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (GESAMP).
52. Continuing pollution problems are, however, still widespread. Sewage is a major problem, especially when it includes industrial wastes, and many contaminant chemicals are inadequately regulated. The fertilisation from erosion is not recognised yet.
53. Land-based activities pose a range of threats to the marine environment. Examples of these are agriculture, forestry, coastal construction, urban development and tourism. Sewage discharge and the runoff of nutrients, sediments and pesticides present greater risks to human health and the marine environment than radioactivity and heavy metals, given existing controls.
54. However, as severe as pollution may be, GESAMP reports that human activity resulting in the routine modification and exploitation of marine and coastal environments, and the widespread habitat damage and loss that result, probably pose even greater threats. Probably?
55. One example of this is coastal development, which is taking place at a rapid rate. It both increases pollution, and radically alters coastlines. Clearing, land reclamation and channelization of flood and tidal waters destroy coastal wetlands. Port development, road building, coastal construction and the mining of beach sand for construction material obliterate shoreline habitats. Coastal and marine tourism and mariculture – the farming of shellfish and finfish – also contribute substantially to pollution of the marine environment and habitat destruction.
56. A second example is over-exploitation of renewable resources, which results in part from coastal population growth and development. Increased demand for fish, and often more fishers, has led to the over-exploitation of most coastal fisheries and to the destruction of a significant part of coastal forests.
57. It is widely recognized that efforts to identify and manage or combat
these activities on an ecosystem basis need to be continued.
94. A synthesis of RFBs activities in relation to ecosystem-based fisheries management is presented in Annex 9, which supplements the information above and gives examples of actions and strategies adopted by some RFBs which relate to ecosystem-based management of fisheries. These can serve as a basis for further development of ecosystem-based fisheries management, and a springboard for future cooperation, including for example the development of objectives, research, strategies and further actions.
95. The RFB activities described in Annex 9 fall under the following general headings, and are summarized below.
97. Activities relating to the impact of other sectors on fisheries is an area which most RFBs have neither the mandate nor resources to explore in depth. Few RFBs have dedicated attention to this area, other than to research the effects of chemical pollutants, and identify considerations relating to activities which have a large combined effect on the biodiversity of species and habitats, such as the utlization of coastal and offshore waters for activities such as aquaculture, shipping, recreation, electric or engineering projects, dredging, dumping, extraction of gravel and sand, and oil prospecting.
98. Activities relating to the impact of climate and ozone depletion on fisheries include research on the effects of environmental changes on stocks and developing assessment methods and management strategies that are robust to environmentally driven changes in the fish stocks.
99. An ecosystem monitoring programme has been established by one management-oriented RFB, and a feedback management procedure incorporating a variety of ecosystem-related factors has been adopted by another. Three scientific advisory bodies are engaged in various forms of ecosystem monitoring.
D. Actions for Future Consideration by RFBs
100. Action by RFBs towards ecosystem-based fisheries management has largely focused to date on the impacts of fishing on the ecosystem – particularly that part of the ecosystem related to fishing such as NADS gear selectivity and habitat. The climatological and oceanographic factors affecting the marine ecosystem have attracted more study than identification of the effects of other human activities on the fisheries ecosystem, and overall marine environmental quality. This is likely due to two compelling reasons – RFBs generally lack the mandate and human/financial resources to consider this. It is an area for future cooperation with RSCs, as described in Part VI of this paper.
101. As noted in Part II of this paper, RFBs could consider defining ecosystem objectives in parallel with the current conservation objectives of fisheries management. The new objectives will need to address biodiversity and habitat productivity. In addition, indicators and reference points will need to be defined, and new monitoring activities and data products will be required for the indicators. Evaluation of the degree to which aggregate industrial activities are meeting ecosystem objectives, and resolution of user conflicts will need to be catered for.
102. The relationship between the work of the RFBs and RSCs reflects the growing nexus between fisheries and environmental management – as well as the holistic nature of life on this planet. Underpinning this relationship are the concepts and obligations of recent international instruments which apply to both, as described in Part 2.
103. The raison d’être of most RFBs is to achieve agreement on the conservation and management of a resource which knows no boundaries. The need for such bodies is underlined by the fact that fourteen have been established since the adoption of UNCLOS, with two more waiting in the wings. Most have regulatory functions, but are still striving to recover from the continuous decline of stocks, often beyond the level corresponding to sustainable yield. To this end, many are taking some dynamic new steps, such as:
105. Another potential constraint is the lack of any existing coordination and cooperation within countries between national sectors (ministries) dealing with fisheries and environmental protection. In some cases they jealously guard their “mandates” and they even act as adversaries rather than partners.
106. As noted in Part 4, RSCs carry out the following activities, all of which are relevant to the ecosystem-based management of fisheries:
107. The ongoing work of RFBs and RSCs is mutually relevant in many respects, particularly in areas of biodiversity of species, habitat, marine environmental quality, climate change and land-based pollution of the marine environment, and in the monitoring and assessment which applies to these areas. Fisheries-related activities concerning protected areas and endangered species are also mutually relevant.
108. The IBSFC precedent is still in early stages of implementation, but demonstrates potential scope for coordination between RFBs and RSCs. There are no other current examples of such coordination. Most RFBs and RSCs operate, for the most part, independently of one another. In many cases, their respective capacities and resources are tailored to the management of specific human impacts on the marine ecosystem.
109. The development of fisheries research has been, over the past decades, intense and sophisticated. The need to broaden conventional fisheries management beyond its traditional parameters will redefine the research and management framework, prioities and approaches. This will lead progressively to the integration of conventional fishery research (with its intense use of modelling) with the use of indicator frameworks, accelerating the convergence with environmental management and sustainable development approaches.
110. As ecosystem considerations and indicator frameworks are increasingly factored into fisheries management, the functionalities of RFBs and RSCs will need to be adapted in a practical, cost-effective way to meet future needs. This could be done in a way that would not overburden either RFBs or RSCs, and build on current programmes.
111. Options for mutual starting points to explore the scope for cooperation are suggested in Part VII, and eventually RFBs and RSCs may wish to consider a range or practical matters. There is potential for cooperation in many forms, such as the identification of collaborative goals and geographical areas, sharing of relevant information and data directly or through such mechanisms as website linkages, development of mutual ecosystem considerations, development of integrated sustainability indicator frameworks which promote complementarity, and adapting monitoring or information systems to support ecosystem-based fisheries management.
112. However, the first steps in moving towards such potential cooperation must first be taken. The opportunity for joint recognition of common problems and complementary mandates exists in the global fora of RFBs and RSCs. Initial views as to the opportunities and challenges for cooperation could be considered, together with the feasibility of such cooperation. The more specific objectives and forms of cooperation could be considered at regional level.
113. At present there are 11 major regional seas conventions in force and two additional conventions are being negotiated. They are designed for the protection of the marine environment, including its living resources, under the jurisdiction of the contracting parties to these conventions. Ninety-nine sovereign States and the European Union are parties to one or several of the conventions in force. Geographically, the conventions cover large parts of the most productive and most threatened areas of the oceans. None of the conventions deals with the management of fishery resources although a number of activities carried out in the framework of programmes associated with the conventions are directly or indirectly relevant, and may contribute to improved management of fishery.
114. There are presently 27 active marine regional fishery bodies, seven of which have been established under the FAO Constitution. FAO has also facilitated the establishment of other bodies and serves as the depository for the instrument of acceptance of such bodies. Negotiations are ongoing for the establishment under the FAO Constitution of a regional fishery commission in the Southwestern Indian Ocean. In September 2000, the Convention for the Establishment of the Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Central and Western Pacific Ocean was adopted. Negotiations are well advanced for the establishment of the Southeast Atlantic Fisheries Organization.
115. The convergence of fisheries management and ecosystem management paradigms and requirements is a reality. Its steadily growing acceptance and implementation is reflected in the ongoing activities described in this paper, and in new initiatives such as the 2001 Reykjavik Conference on Responsible Fisheries in the Ecosystem. With the increasing establishment of new information technology and systems which offer integrated ecosystem assessment, it is imperative that regional bodies build on their strengths and successes to date, evaluate future needs, and begin work on a mutually beneficial framework for cooperation.
116. The preceding sections of the present paper review the status of the RFBs and the RSCs, with specific reference to their activities that may be relevant for improved cooperation between them. Taking into account these activities, as well as the experience gained through the cooperation already established between some RFBs and RSCs, the following concrete suggestions are made for options that may lead to an enhanced cooperation on ecosystem-based fishery management:
|Maintenance of ecosystem diversity||Areas of the continental shelf disturbed by fishing activities||Percentage of each habitat type that is undisturbed|
|Maintenance of species diversity||
|Maintenance of genetic variability within species||
|Maintenance of directly impacted species||
|Maintenance of ecologically dependent species||
|Maintenance of ecosystem structure and function||
ANNEX 9: SYNTHESIS OF RFB ACTIVITIES IN RELATION TO ECOSYSTEM-BASED FISHERIES MANAGEMENT
1. Impact of Fisheries on the Ecosystem
The impact of fisheries on the ecosystem is viewed from different perspectives by RFBs. Many link this to the protection of species and habitat, impact of gear and/or non-target, associated and dependent species (NADS) such as seabirds and marine mammals. The impact of aquaculture on the marine environment is also considered in this context.
On the whole, consideration of such impacts, especially those relating to gear and NADS, tends to focus on that part of the ecosystem relating to the fisheries resource.
CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) adopts the view that an ecosystem approach does not concentrate solely on the species fished but also seeks to minimise the risk of fisheries adversely affected by "dependent and related species", and to regulate human activities (e.g. fishing) so that deleterious changes in the Antarctic ecosystems are avoided. It has tackled three substantial problems relating to mortality of marine animals caused directly or indirectly by the activities of humans, mainly (if not exclusively) relating to fishing. These are:
CCAMLR has also embarked on an educational campaign aimed at fishermen to prevent pollution from marine debris, based on ecological and environmental reasons.
CCSBT (Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna) The Convention provides for the collection and exchange of data and other information relevant for scientific research on ecologically related species. In this regard the Commission has established an ecologically related species working group which has, among other things, developed guidelines for the design and use of tori lines, as devices for deterring sea birds from taking bait during the setting of lines for long line fishing operations.
Ecosystem management issues have been raised within the Commission, but firm strategies have not been developed to date; it is considered that the matter will need to be considered further in the context of the Commission’s powers and responsibilities under the Convention.
GFCM (General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean) The Scientific Advisory Committee supports studies on the impact of gear on non-target species and the marine ecosystem.
IBSFC (International Baltic Sea Fishery Commission) In the ecosystem considerations to its Action Plan, IBSFC identifies a need to protect species and habitats from the impact of fisheries on the ecosystem. This is elaborated in Annex 8.
IATTC (Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission) In formulating conservation and management measures for yellowfin and bigeye tuna, the two principal species currently being managed by the Commission, the impact on all species of tuna in the same ecosystem is taken into account. The Commission has also adopted a resolution regarding bycatch which is specifically designed to address ecosystem management by requiring specific measures to reduce the bycatch of species taken in the tuna purse seine fisheries.
The IATTC Secretariat serves as the Secretariat for the Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program (AIDCP). This agreement has among its principal objectives the management of the purse seine tuna fishery in the eastern Pacific Ocean in terms of its impact on the ecosystem as a whole. The AIDCP also requires that specific approaches regarding bycatch reduction, which is an important element of ecosystem management, be undertaken by the parties to the agreement.
ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) continues to contribute significantly to global knowledge about the impacts of fishing a global synthesis of fisheries impacts in different ecosystems, recently by convening the 1999 Symposium on the Ecosystem Effects of Fishing.
IOTC (Indian Ocean Tuna Commission) is concerned about the impact of fishing on other species, including marine mammals and sharks.
NASCO (North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization) has a mandate to consider ecologically related species, and action is being taken in relation to, inter alia, by-catch, introductions and transfers, habitat issues and the impact of aquaculture. It recently held a Special Session on habitat issues. Measures were also agreed to consider the effects of by-catch in other fisheries.
NASCO has adopted a detailed Action Plan which features the Precautionary Approach, and sees the latter as influencing the entire range of the salmon conservation and management activities of NASCO and its parties
NPAFC (North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission) The Commission has over the years addressed ecosystem management in its work. One of the three main components of NPAFC Science Plan is salmonid habitat and ecosystem. In the immediate past, the research activities included linkages between a composite Pacific Climate-Ocean Index and fluctuations in salmon and other fish populations, Ocean conditions and Pacific Salmon Stock Assessment in the North Pacific Ocean, Salmon Research cruises for stock assessment and carrying capacity estimation, oceanographic observations, sampling of sea surface water to estimate primary production, sampling of zooplankton, feeding habits, genetic stock identification, etc.
In its Work Plan for the year 2000, major activities include studies on coastal and offshore environmental characteristics of salmon habitat and ecosystem of the North Pacific, and salmon population dynamics. In addition to other information, the studies are expected to look into community structure and the role fo salmon as prey for large predatory fish species and marine mammals.
PICES (North Pacific Marine Science Organization) has established working groups to consider ecosystem aspects of fishing, such as WG 11 on the consumption of marine resources by marine birds and mammals.
2. The Impact of Other Sectors
Information relating to the impact of climate and ozone depletion is also relevant to this catetory.
IBSFC (International Baltic Sea Fishery Commission). The impact of human activities on fish stocks are a stated ecosystem consideration, as noted in Annex 8. Some stated concerns in this regard are: the utilization of coastal and offshore waters for activities such as aquaculture, shipping, recreation, electric or engineering projects, dredging, dumping, extraction of gravel and sand, and oil prospecting, which have a large combined effect on the biodiversity of species and habitats.
134. IWC (International Whaling Commission). POLLUTION 2000+, a major research program developed by IWC, relates to the effects of chemical pollutants on cetaceans.
3. The Impact of Climate, Ozone Depletion
IBSFC (International Baltic Sea Fishery Commission). Climate change is an ecological consideration of IBSFC, as noted in Annex 8. In particular, global warming due to the greenhouse effect could alter inputs of salt water, fresh water, oxygen, nutrients and pollutants with potentially large consequences for marine ecosystems and species. Change in currents would also influence the recruitment of organisms to coastal and offshore waters. Changes in the input of fresh water from rivers would have particularly large effects in the Bothnian Bay.
IPHC (International Pacific Halibut Commission) has developed an assessment method and management strategy that are robust to environmentally driven changes in the Pacific halibut stock. Understanding the reasons for those changes is nonetheles of great scientific interest. Research is being conducted under the auspices of several national and international programs, including Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC), the North Pacific Anadromous Fisheries Commission (NPAFC), and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES). In this manner, a comparative research approach is being implemented, with studies across species, regions and time periods providing the replicate observations needed to test hypotheses.
IWC (International Whaling Commission) has accorded priority to research on the effects of environmental changes on cetaceans. It has established a major research program, SOWER 2000, which relates to the effects of climate change and ozone depletion on cetaceans.
PICES (North Pacific Marine Science Organization) has, among its purposes, to advance scientific knowledge about the ocean environment, global weather and climate change. Its regular reports about the state of the North Pacific and activities of its assorted working groups achieve this.
SPC’s Oceanic Fisheries Program (South Pacific Community) has established an ecosystem research program, and reports that considerable progress has been made in understanding the basic dynamics of the warm pool ecosystem, which relates climatic conditions, inter alia, to the distribution of fish.
4. Ecosystem Monitoring
The information provided in relation to climate change is also relevant to ecosystem monitoring.
CCAMLR (Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources). The CCAMLR Ecosystem Monitoring Program (CEMP), described above, is a scientific program aimed at detecting changes in the condition, abundance and distribution of the animals within the Convention Area. The parameters being monitored fall into four categories: reproduction, growth and condition, feeding ecology and behaviour, and abundance and distribution. Information on predators, prey and the environment are collected simultaneously and submitted to the Working Group on Ecosystem Monitoring and Management for preparation of advice to the Scientific Committee.
IWC (International Whaling Commission) pioneered the development of a feedback management procedure that incorporates a variety of ecosystem-related factors which explicitly take uncertainty into account.
PICES (North Pacific Marine Science Organization) has among its purposes to advance scientific knowledge about the living resources and their ecosystems in relation to the North Pacific, and an example of its activity in this area is the working group it established on Subarctic Pacific Monitoring.
119 . Recognising the potential benefits that could be derived from
closer cooperation among the regional seas conventions and action plans
and the regional fishery bodies in the fields relevant to ecosystem-based
management of fisheries, the meeting endorsed the actions recommended for
the enhancement of this cooperation to:
120. On the understanding that the paper was intended to be presented to the forthcoming meeting of regional fishery bodies organised by the FAO in February 2001, the meeting also recommended that, before presenting the paper to that meeting, it should be amended taking into account the following comments and suggestions: