International experts exchange opinions on sustainable global fishing at GFF 2018

In St. Petersburg, the first business programme event was held of the Global Fishery Forum 2018 – the international conference “Issues in commercial straddling stocks fishing activities”.

A large number of Russian and foreign specialists and experts in international law, the fishing economy and marine sciences from a variety of scientific organizations, government departments and foreign embassies and representations too part.

One of the main discussion topics of the session consisted in current international law problems of fishing and ways to resolve them. Full Minister, Advisor and representative of the Faroe Islands under the kingdom of Denmark in Moscow Bjorn Kunoy spoke about legal aspects of managing straddling bio-resources in accordance with the UN Convention on Marine Law, focusing particularly on the procedure for settling international disputes over resource use. When one state believes that its tights have been infringed during distribution of the quota or determination of the conditions for use of stocks, the only method for resolving the problem is collaboration with regional fishery organizations, such as the NPAFC.

The topic was taken up by VNIRO head of department Damir Bekyashev, who noted the need to strengthen the role of international co-operation in the fight against the illegal, unregulated and unregistered industry. Experts estimate that the turnover of the illegal, unregulated and undeclared catch amounts to about USD 35 bn a year, and its volume might reach 26 m tonnes. A major role in combating the illegal, unregulated and unregistered industry is played by the FAO, regional organizations and many states, including Russia, which have taken serious measures in this direction. A number of international agreements have already been concluded on limiting the possibilities for selling illegal products. In addition, according to the specialist, the battle needs to be hotted up against vessels involved in illegal fishing under a flag of convenience and the international community must reach a consensus on determining the maritime protected area and the mechanisms for granting and removing the status for individual regions of open waters.

TINRO_Centre Director Alexey Baitalyuk spoke about managing the industry of straddling stocks in the northern part of the Pacific, in which both coastal and distant water fishing countries participate.

“The large-scale climate changes have caused a drop in saury stocks. But these natural processes have triggered a rapid growth in the numbers of sardine and mackerel”, Alexey Baitalyuk announced. “According to TINRO-Centre trawler recordings over the last few years, the biomass of sardines in the north-western part of the Pacific reached 3.3 m tonnes and that of mackerel in the South Kurils zone alone is already heading towards 4 m tonnes”.

According to the scientist, in the medium term, if the trend for the stocks of these species survives, it will be possible to catch up to 1 m tonnes of sardines and 300–400 tonnes of mackerel. In addition, if pelagic squid resources are covered by the industry, a catch increase up to 150–200 thousand tonnes is possible. These forecasts might not, materialise however without international co-operation being developed within the scope of the Fisheries Commission for the North Pacific and regulation of the industry in open waters being made more stringent. Measures to manage stocks and control industry pressing in international waters must correspond to the measures for managing those in the national waters of coastal states, which agree with the principle of sovereign rights of coastal waters reflected in the Convention on Maritime Law, the speaker stressed.

The impact of climate change on global fishery was the subject covered by President of the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC), Prof. Suam Kim of Bujan University. According to the specialist, mankind is currently on the brink of global climate changes that will trigger shifts in both ecosystems and the global economy. In recent year the global catch has reached 80 m tonnes, with aquaculture production on virtually the same level. In the next ten years, the specialists predict a possible 40% drop in fishing industry production in the tropics, this being countered by a 30–70 % increase in fish product output in northern regions. In order to monitor, study, register and forecast the trends observed, the global scientific community has combined its efforts: the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) have set up a joint working group. Large-scale events, such as the Global Fishery Forum, could become a platform for presenting views and recommendations of the scientific community on the given problem.

The meeting participants also considered the impact of climate change on stocks of Bering pollock, development of urgent recommendations for improving the Russian pollock industry in light of the trends observed, the problems of sustaining the Russian toothfish and other bio-resource industries in the Antarctic under the conditions of establishing maritime protected areas there, as well as the problems of regulating the industry in Russia and other countries of Atlantic salmon of Russian origin. In addition, the specialists heard the proposals of young fishing industry scientists for improving the methods for developing approaches to studying and making rational use of the water bioresources of the World Ocean.

In conclusion, the moderator of the conference, VNIRO Prof. Vladimir Belyaev, drew attention to the fact that there are virtually no free regions or resources, since all waters and industry areas are under the jurisdiction of international organizations or are in the exclusive economic zones/territorial waters of states. It is an urgent task for the global community and one of the key topics of the plenary session of the Global Fishery Forum 2018 to develop a long-term global strategy for managing and achieving a sustainable industry of almost 250 thousand types of water resource