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IIFC address proposed initiatives for management of krill

by the Fish Site Editor
19 October 2007, at 1:00am

TASMANIA - When the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) opens its 26th annual meeting next week, delegates will address proposed initiatives to bring the observation and management of the krill fishery onto an equal footing with all other Southern Ocean fisheries while also seeking new ways to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing for Chilean sea bass (Patagonian toothfish).

Krill are small, shrimp-like crustaceans that serve as the critical linchpin of the Southern Ocean food web. As the commercial krill fishery has rapidly expanded in recent years, predators that rely on krill as a primary food source have been faced with a dwindling supply. The growth in the krill fishery is driven by an increase in the amount of feed needed for aquaculture, primarily farmed salmon. Boats also catch and process krill for human consumption and use in neutraceuticals, including dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

"It's really ironic that CCAMLR was created to conserve krill, but 26 years later we still don't have an effective management system to protect this 'bread and butter' of the Southern Ocean," said Gerald Leape, vice president for marine conservation, National Environmental Trust and director, Antarctic Krill Conservation Project. "It's a shame that we're still fighting to level the playing field with other CCAMLR fisheries. We're concerned that steadily increasing krill harvests will adversely affect the entire scope of Antarctic marine life. Achieving 100% observer coverage and tightening reporting requirements for the krill fishery is a critical first step toward parity with all other CCAMLR fisheries."

In the coming season, CCAMLR member states have announced their intentions to exceed, for the first time, the current, 10-year-old 620,000 metric ton catch limit by as much as 144,000 metric tons.

"As the krill fishery expands, we need to gather more data and tighten reporting standards while we pursue an ecosystem-based management system with an enforceable catch limit," continued Leape. "The only way to collect the needed data is by placing observers on all krill fishing vessels and requiring them to report in every five days, just like every other CCAMLR authorized fishing vessel."

At the opposite end of the food chain, toothfish have been devastated by IUU fishing. While CCAMLR has been a leader in regulatory efforts, pirate fishing vessels targeting Chilean sea bass continue to operate in the Southern Ocean. This year, CCAMLR will consider an important proposal, introduced last year, authorizing economic sanctions against member countries that support IUU vessels. Enactment of this proposal would send a strong message to illegal toothfish boats to stay out of CCAMLR waters.

As the UN Food and Agricultural Organization's Committee on Fisheries (COFI) is negotiating a binding treaty to strengthen the authority of port states to prohibit the entry of IUU-caught fish, it will look to CCAMLR for its leadership role in this fight. The COFI process is scheduled to conclude prior to the 2008 CCAMLR meeting.

the Fish Site Editor