CCAMLR meeting agrees innovative measures to protect Antarctic krill
The European Commission welcomes a number of forward-looking measures to protect fish stocks decided by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Resources (CCAMLR) at its annual meeting in Hobart, Australia, which closed today 5 November.
In addition to continuing to set sustainable catch limits for krill fisheries, CCAMLR also adopted measures proposed by the EU, on the basis of scientific advice, to increase observer coverage in the fishery, centralise satellite vessel monitoring (VMS) data, and improve the accuracy of catch reporting. These decisions were taken in a context in which market demand for krill is rising rapidly. Krill is not only a crucial component of the Antarctic marine ecosystem, providing food for many larger animals, including penguins, whales and seals, but it is also now widely used by humans, in cosmetic and health products, as well as feed in aquaculture. Thanks to these new measures, CCAMLR now has the means to control future increases in fishing pressure and keep catches within sustainable levels.
Advanced discussions were also held on establishing a framework to regulate fisheries in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), and the Commission is optimistic that binding measures can be agreed in 2011. Last year, CCAMLR created the first-ever MPA to be established in the high seas, again acting on the basis of a proposal from the EU.
These good results were tempered by the failure to achieve progress on implementing a number of important measures to fight illegal fishing activities, in particular trade-related measures and an effective system of port state control. It is vital that CCAMLR, which has long been a leader in the fight against IUU, assumes its responsibility to clamp down on illegal fishing in the Antarctic region. IUU fishing is major problem in the region, in particular the commercially valuable toothfish. CCAMLR's own estimates of illegal toothfish catches show a significant increase over the last 12 months, and the Commission will be pressing strongly to get effective measures agreed in 2011.
Catch limits for all the fisheries in the region were set in line with scientific advice.