Progress Made on Fisheries Management in Central Atlantic

4 July 2016, at 1:00am

EU - The 16th Session of the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) was held in Gosier (Guadeloupe, France) from 20-24 June 2016. It was attended by representatives from 28 member countries, including the European Commission for the European Union, as well as observers from sub-regional fisheries organisations, cooperation agencies and civil society.

Progress was made in a number of areas. Most notably, members agreed to move ahead with plans to establish a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) in the region. The European Union welcomes this as an important first step to improving fisheries management and governance in the Central Atlantic.

WECAFC members will now hold a first preparatory meeting in 2017, where they will discuss the objectives and competence area of the new RFMO, as well as which stocks should be covered. They will also discuss the budgetary implications, the institutional structure and national sovereignty aspects.

In addition, important progress was made on fisheries management, data collection, and the fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing.

With regard to fisheries management, the WECAFC adopted recommendations on management plans for queen conch, spiny lobster and flyingfish, on deep sea fisheries management in the high seas and on the management of shrimp and groundfish resources. Members also adopted resolutions on sea cucumber and on marine protected areas respectively.

On data collection, following a workshop co-funded by the EU, the WECAFC agreed to strengthen data collection and data sharing by setting up a working group for fisheries data and statistics to support fishery management plans in the region.

Finally, members agreed that appropriate legal frameworks and protocols for cooperation among countries should be established to ensure the successful implementation of the FAO's Port State Measures Agreement and effective regional cooperation against IUU fishing. To this end, the WECAFC endorsed the terms of reference of the WECAFC working group on IUU that will meet for the first time next October.

The WECAFC aims to ensure the conservation and rational exploitation of the marine resources in the Central West Atlantic, covering the Caribbean Basin and the tropical western Atlantic Ocean. As a consultative body under FAO, it has no powers to introduce binding management or conservation measures. The EU is a WECAFC member, as are France, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom