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Plenty more fish in the sea? Ocean fish are not in particularly good shape. At least a quarter of the world’sfish stocks are overexploited or depleted. In recent decades the search for new fishing grounds has takenfleets into ever-deeper waters. Stocks are further undermined by illegal fishing. It is now clear that overfishingis wreaking havoc on our marine environment and is economically unsustainable. For this reasonmany nations are adopting a more precautionary approach to fishing.


42> Chapter 03The global hunt for fish> Within a few short decades, industrial fishing has expanded from the traditionalfishing grounds of the Northern Hemisphere to include all the world’s oceans and seas. Manystocks have been overexploited and are depleted. But the situation is not without hope. Some countrieshave shown that fish stocks can in fact recover when sustainable fisheries management systemsare implemented.The art of counting fishNo other group of animals is as difficult to monitor as fish.Spotting scopes and radar equipment are used to locateand count migratory birds along their flight paths. Bats canbe monitored by placing ultrasound detectors and photoelectricsensors at the entrance of their caves. But whatabout fish?Humans are not capable of looking into the ocean andcounting the fish they see. Instead, they must try to estimatethe size of fish stocks as accurately as possible. TheFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations(FAO) uses various sources to estimate global fish stocksand trends as accurately as possible. The results are publishedevery two years in the SOFIA Report (The State ofWorld Fisheries and Aquaculture). The latest report wasreleased in 2012 and reflects the developments to2009/2010. Fish is the means of subsistence for billions ofpeople around the world. Accordingly, the report is animportant document on which UN decisions, internationalagreements and treaties are based. The data used for theSOFIA Report is taken from the following sources:FISHERIES – Fishermen report their catches to their governmentauthorities, such as the Ministries of Agricultureand Fisheries. The authorities are obliged to send this datato the FAO. The data is also forwarded to scientists in theirown country.THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY – Fisheries’ data is oftenincomplete or incorrect. For instance, fishermen onlyreport the amounts of those fish which they are officiallypermitted to catch. They do not include any unwanted“bycatch” – all the fish and marine fauna which are caughtinadvertently and until now have mostly been thrownback overboard. An quantitative assessment of bycatchlevels would, however, be crucial as this could provide amore realistic estimate of the actual status of fish stocks.In order to improve the flawed basic data, fishery scientiststherefore gather their own data.1. Fishery-dependent data: Fishery scientists regularlyaccompany fishing vessels. They collect catch samplesand detailed data including the age, size, length and numberof adult fish. The volume and composition of the catchare of particular interest. They also record the effortexpended, such as how long a net is dragged behind thevessel before it is full. This establishes the exact amountof effort involved in catching a certain amount of fish.Researchers call this the “catch per unit effort” (CPUE). Itis the only way of ascertaining the stock density, or thenumber of fish found in a certain area.2. Fishery-independent data: Scientists also conductresearch projects using their own vessels. They take numeroussample catches – not only in the abundant areashighly sought after by the fishermen, but in many differentparts of a maritime region. The sampling locations areeither chosen randomly or according to a certain pattern.The objective is to obtain a comprehensive overview of theentire maritime region as well as the distribution of fishstocks. During these expeditions it is important that all themarine fauna caught are counted and measured, to enablea reliable assessment of the entire ecosystem to be made.The scientists are also interested in the age of the fish.Using close-meshed nets, therefore, they catch young fish(juveniles) which are not usually taken by the fishermen.The age distribution of the fish is an extremely importantaspect of stock predictions. It shows how many of the fishwill grow to sexual maturity and thus how populations are


Plenty more fish in the sea? Venerable gentlemen of fisheries science: ICES researchers held their statutory meeting at the House of Lords in London in1929. Upon its foundation in 1902, the ICES had 8 member nations: today it has 20.likely to develop in future years. How many researchexpeditions are undertaken differs from country to country.Researchers sample individual fish stocks up to fivetimes a year. Information on the eggs and larvae of somestocks is also recorded. These numbers indicate the parentstock and the numbers of young to be anticipated.The researchers utilize both the fishery-dependentand the fishery-independent data to adjust and augmentthe fisheries’ official catch numbers. For instance, fromtheir own sample catches they can estimate the approximatevolume of bycatch in the fishing grounds. In manycases catches from illegal fishing are also shown up. Forinstance, double logbooks are frequently used – one forthe authorities showing the official figures, and anotherfor the scientists showing the higher but genuine catchnumbers. Comparing these two allows a more accurateestimation of how many fish were actually caught in amaritime region.How does the data reach the FAO?The catch data from both the fishermen and the scientistsis initially forwarded to higher scientific institutionswhich utilize it to estimate the current stocks of the variousfish species and maritime regions. One objective is togenerate a supra-regional overview from the national data.For example, the International Council for the Explorationof the Sea (ICES) in Copenhagen is responsible for theNortheast Atlantic. Its working groups use both the fisheries’official catch data and the scientific results to calculatethe current stocks of the different species of fish and fauna.The ICES then sends these stock estimates to the FAO.Data about stocks in other maritime regions reachesthe FAO in a similar way. For example, the NorthwestAtlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) is responsible forthe Northwest Atlantic. It collates data from Canada, theUSA, France (for the Atlantic islands of St. Pierre andMiquelon) and the foreign fleets from Russia and the EUwhich operate in this region. The NAFO then forwardsthe data to the FAO. The Canadian and US national fisheriesinstitutes also report directly to the FAO.The FAO does not re-evaluate this information, butmerely summarizes, edits and ultimately publishes thedata for the various maritime regions of the world.Disagreement on the condition of fish stocksAround 1500 fish stocks around the world are commerciallyfished, with the various stocks being exploited todifferent extents. Comprehensive estimations of abundancecurrently exist for only around 500 of these stocks.In most cases these are the stocks which have been commerciallyfished for many decades. For many years, exactrecords have been kept of what and how much is caught:ICESThe InternationalCouncil for the Explorationof the Sea(ICES) was founded inCopenhagen, Denmark,in 1902 and isthe world’s oldestintergovernmentalorganization. At thattime there was agrowing awareness insome European fishingnations that the longtermmanagement ofmigratory fish stocksdepended on a coordinatedapproach. Todaythe ICES acts onbehalf of the EU andother fishing nationssuch as Canada, Icelandand Russia. It isresponsible for all theliving marine resourcesin the NortheastAtlantic, a total of120 species. The ICESrecommends the maximumfish catcheswithin a specific maritimeregion.


44> Chapter 033.2 > Global estimationof fish abundance:Data on thestatus of fish stocks isprovided by the fisheriesand scientists.The FAO collates thisinformation and thenattempts to drawup a picture of theworldwide situation.The problem is thatreliable data existsfor only about 500stocks. Experts do notagree on the status ofother fish stocks.the tonnages and also the age and size of the fish. Datasetsfor cod off the coast of Norway, for example, go back as faras the 1920s. Very little is known about other fish speciesand maritime regions – particularly the Exclusive EconomicZones of some developing countries. Many developingcountries provide catch data alone, without any scientificassessment. The FAO makes limited use of such data.There are also some maritime regions for which not evensimple catch data is available. The FAO believes that it isimpossible to make any reliable estimation of such stocks.Therefore no reliable data exists for many of theworld’s fish stocks. Moreover, fisheries biologists areeven unable to confirm how many fish stocks there actuallyare. If any data is available, it applies only to commerciallyexploited species. Naturally an overall survey of allthe world’s fish would be desirable – but the cost wouldbe exorbitant. Hundreds of research expeditions would berequired, making the exercise unaffordable.Critics point out, therefore, that the FAO statistics donot take a large proportion of stocks into account. A jointAmerican-German research group has therefore developedits own mathematical model to estimate the status ofall populations from the catch amounts reported by thefisheries alone, without the fishery-independent data fromthe scientists. These researchers are also investigatinghow stock catches have developed over time. According tothis model, a fish stock is depleted when the catchdecreases conspicuously within a few years. Attempts arebeing made to circumvent the lack of stock calculations bysimply interpreting catches over the course of time. Theresearchers have meticulously requested informationfrom the authorities of the countries responsible forregions with no catch data at all. Based on the model,which takes 1500 commercially exploited stocks andaround 500 other stocks into account, the fish are in evenworse shape than assumed by the FAO: 56.4 per cent ofthe stocks are overexploited or depleted, not 29.9 per centas claimed by the FAO. But the work of this American-German research group is itself under fire, with claimsthat its data is inconsistent and still unreliable. It presentsa distorted picture of the reality, say other researchers.Which of the methods better illustrates the state of theFisheryFISHERYScientist travels with fishingvessel and gathers fisherydependentdata (catch volume,composition, age, size, length,fish maturity level, calculationof expended effort).RESEARCHScientists undertake their ownresearch expeditions to gatherfishery-independent data.Samples also taken in areas wherefishery is not active; sampling ofall age groups, including juveniles(using close-meshed nets).sends catch datasends fisher y-dependent datasends fishery-independent data


46> Chapter 03world’s fisheries is currently a subject of heated debate.Despite the uncertainties, the researchers and the FAOagree on one thing: over the years the situation has deteriorated.Recovery will only be possible if the endangeredstocks are fished less intensely for a number of years.not only fish but also other marine species such as prawns,mussels and squid. If these numbers are added to those forfish, total catches are much greater. Accordingly, for thepast 20 years the total marine catch has been a steady80 million tonnes annually. The peak was reached in 1996with 86.4 million tonnes. In 2011 it was 78.9 millionThings are gradually getting worsetonnes.The results are alarming, because the pressure on fish populationshas been escalating for years. According to thecurrent SOFIA Report, the proportion of overexploited ordepleted stocks has increased from 10 per cent in 1974 to29.9 per cent in 2009. After temporary fluctuations, theproportion of fully exploited stocks rose during the sameperiod of time, from 51 per cent to 57 per cent. The proportionof non-fully exploited stocks, in contrast, has declinedsince 1974 from almost 40 per cent to only 12.7 per centin 2009.A clear trend is therefore emerging: as far as overfishingand the intensive exploitation of the oceans are concerned,the situation is not improving; it is slowly butsteadily deteriorating. It is interesting that the total annualfish catch has been fluctuating for about 20 years betweena good 50 and 60 million tonnes. It peaked in 1994 at63.3 million tonnes. In 2011 a total of 53.1 million tonneswas landed – about four times more than in 1950 (12.8million tonnes). The FAO, however, records the catches ofThe reason why fish catches have remained fairly stableis because over time the coastal maritime regions werefished out, prompting the fisheries to spread out into newareas. They have expanded in geographical terms, fromthe traditional fishing grounds of the North Atlantic andNorth Pacific further and further south. They have alsopenetrated into ever-deeper waters. Only a few decadesago it was virtually impossible in technical terms to dropnets deeper than 500 metres. Today the fisheries are operatingat depths of up to 2000 metres. Moreover, once thestocks of the traditional species had been exhausted, thefishing industry turned to other species. Some of thesewere given new names in an effort to promote sales andmake them more attractive to consumers. For instance the“slimehead” went on sale as “orange roughy”.It is still possible to remove virtually the same amountsof fish from the oceans, therefore, but the composition ofthe global catch and the stocks themselves have changed.Consistent catches are no indication that fish stocks haveremained stable.Percentage of stocks assessed6050403020fully exploitednon-fullyexploitedLive weight (million tonnes)10090807060504030Catch volumes world incl. ChinaCatch volumes world excl. China10overexploited201001974 1979 1984 1989 1994 1999 2004 200901950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 20103.3 > The number of overexploited stocks has soared sincethe 1970s, while the number of non-fully exploited stocks hasdecreased. Fully-exploited stocks are not, in principle, problematic.It is important to manage them sustainably, however.3.4 > The development of catch volumes of world marine capturefisheries since 1950. Catches in China might have beenadjusted upwards for many years, in order to comply with thegovernment’s official output targets.


Plenty more fish in the sea? Top producercountries based oncatchChina catches the most fishTaking catch volumes as the benchmark, China has beenthe most important fishing nation for years now. However,the data available is extremely unreliable. A large numberof experts believe that catches have been adjustedupwards for many years, in order to comply with the government’sofficial output targets. Therefore the figureshave presumably been too high for some time. Onlyrecently has this practice begun to change in China.Peru, until 2009 the second most important fishingnation, has slipped to fourth place. This is due to the lowcatches of anchovies which can be ascribed to climatechange in particular, but also to a complete closure of thefishery designed to protect future anchovy stocks. Indonesiais currently the second and the USA the third mostimportant fishing nation.Developments in Russia are interesting. Since 2004,its catches have increased by about 1 million tonnes.According to the Russian authorities, this growth is aresult of changes to the comprehensive documentation ofcatches. Until now some local catches were registered inthe home port as imports and not as domestic catches.Russia plans to further expand its fishing industry in thecoming years, the goal being to land 6 million tonnes bythe year 2020. This would amount to slightly more thanthe combined catches of all EU nations, which totalled 5.2million tonnes in 2010.A new way of thinkingThe situation is grave, but not without hope. The days oframpant overfishing are over in many regions. After stocksbegan to collapse in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, leadingto the loss of many jobs, it gradually became clear to thefishing industry and policy-makers in various countriesthat overfishing is not only an environmental but also aneconomic problem. Some nations took the necessary stepsto avoid any repeat of the situation. Australia, Canada,New Zealand and the USA, for example, developed fisheriesmanagement plans which limit catches to the extentthat overfishing will be largely avoided in future. Europehas also learned from some of its mistakes. After massiveoverexploitation of the North Sea herring in the 1970s thefishery was completely closed for several years. Thestocks recovered. Here too a fisheries management regimewas introduced to prevent any renewed collapse. Eventoday, however, many other maritime regions and stocks


Plenty more fish in the sea?


50> Chapter 033.7 > The FAO divides theoceans into 19 major fishingareas which differ markedly intheir annual catches (in tonnesliving weight). The bar chartsshow the conditions in thecorresponding maritime regions.The FAO figures (based onabout 500 stocks) are comparedwith those of an American-German research group (basedon about 2000 stocks). Despitethe fact that the stock conditionswere ascertained usingdifferent methods, it is still possibleto compare the datasets.The Arctic is not shown in detaildue to its limited catches. Thered figures show the FAO numberof the corresponding area.These areas differ considerablyin their level of productivity.The coastal areas, or moreaccurately the continentalshelves, are usually much moreproductive than the open seas.In FAO area 81, for example,there are few shelf areas, andthe catch is correspondinglylow, but the fish stocks are ina good condition (accordingto FAO data). Therefore, a lowcatch is not necessarily indicativeof poor stock condition.27Northeast Atlantic8,720,395015158Antarctic andSouthern Indian Ocean10,83204Western Indian Ocean4,266,917 57Eastern Indian Ocean6,950,3437118Arctic Sea58961Northwest PacificData not availableWestern Central Pacific11,709,5140681Southwest Pacific573,783FAO dataStocks/species (groups) (per cent)100500Datafrom otherresearchersnon-fully exploitedfully exploitedoverexploited2127313437


Plenty more fish in the sea?


52> Chapter 033.8 > The FAO includesthe NorthwestPacific among theareas with fluctuatingcatch volumes.Spawners“Spawners” is theterm used for sexuallymature male andfemale fish which helpto maintain stocksby producing young.If spawner numbersdecrease as a resultof intensive fishing oradverse environmentalconditions, insufficientyoung areproduced and stockscan collapse.Catch (million tonnes)3025201510501970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010Areas with falling catchesThe areas in which catches have decreased over the yearsinclude the Northwest Atlantic (FAO fishing area 21), theNortheast Atlantic (27), the Western Central Atlantic (31),the Mediterranean and the Black Sea (both 37), the SoutheastAtlantic (47) and the Southwest Pacific (81). In thepast 5 years these areas provided an average 20 per centof the world’s total catch. In some areas reduced catcheswere a result of fisheries management regulations, andstocks are expected to recover here. If the annual statisticsindicate diminished catch volumes, this does not alwaysmean that a stock is being depleted or has been overfished.In the Northeast Atlantic, for instance, the pressure oncod, plaice and sole has been reduced. Management plansare in place for the most important stocks of these species.Fortunately the spawning stocks of the Northeast Arcticcod have increased again here – particularly in 2008.Apparently the stocks have recovered following the lowlevels of the 1960s to 1980s.The future is looking a little brighter for the NortheastArctic pollack and the Northeast Arctic haddock, but otherstocks of these species continue to be overexploited insome regions of the Northeast Atlantic.Catches of blue whiting have decreased dramatically– from 2.4 million tonnes in 2004 to 540,000 tonnesin 2010 and 100,000 tonnes in 2011. This decline can beascribed to the fisheries reacting too slowly to a suddenchange in reproduction. Between the years of 1997 and2004 the blue whiting for unknown reasons producedmasses of young. During this period the species wasfished intensively. But following a sudden drop in reproductionrates after 2004, the fishing industry continued toexploit the species at the same rate as before. The markedreduction of catch volumes in recent years, however, hashelped the stocks to regenerate. In 2012 a harvest ofalmost 400,000 tonnes is expected.The situation of some deep-sea fish species is critical.All in all, 62 per cent of the stocks assessed in the NortheastAtlantic are fully exploited, 31 per cent overexploitedand 7 per cent non-fully exploited.Fish stocks also remain in a poor condition in theNorthwest Atlantic. Cod and ocean perch, for example,have not yet recovered from the intensive fishing of the1980s, despite the Canadian authorities having completelybanned the commercial fishing of these species. Expertsascribe the situation to adverse environmental conditionsand competition for food (Chapter 1). Other stocks whichare protected by fisheries management regimes appear tobe regenerating. These include the spiny dogfish, the yellowtailflounder, the Atlantic halibut, the Greenland halibutand the haddock. Stocks in the Northwest Atlantic areconsidered 77 per cent fully exploited, 17 per cent overexploitedand 6 per cent non-fully exploited.Catch volumes in the Southeast Atlantic have declinedconsiderably since the 1970s, from a previous 3.3 milliontonnes to only 1.2 million tonnes in 2009. This can beascribed partially to overfishing, and partially to catchreductions as a result of sustainable fisheries management.This applies in particular to the hake which is particularlyimportant in this area. Thanks to the fisherymeasures introduced in 2006, some stocks of hake such asthe deep sea Merluccius paradoxus off South Africa andthe shallow water Merluccius capensis off Namibia appearto be recovering. In contrast, stocks of the formerly prolificSouth African sardine appear to be overexploited followinga phase of intensive fishing. In 2004 the stock wasclassified as fully exploited. In the years since then, however,it has declined again as a result of adverse environmentalconditions. This example highlights the speed atwhich a fully exploited stock can become overexploited,and the importance of forward-looking and sustainable


Plenty more fish in the sea?


54> Chapter 03What shape are tuna stocks in?Tuna is popular both in Western Europe and Japan where it is oftenprepared as sushi. At Japanese fish auctions in particular, prices inexcess of 1000 euros per kilogram are paid for certain species oftuna. Visitors to high-class restaurants are quite prepared to paytop prices for the right product. The trade in tuna is thereforeextremely lucrative.As a result of strong demand, in 2009 stocks of seven importantspecies of tuna were overexploited by a third, 37.5 per centwere fully exploited and 29 per cent were non-fully exploited. Inthe case of tuna the status of the species is often defined but notthe populations, because it is difficult to define individual regionalstocks of these fast-moving, highly migratory species. The mostimportant species (as a proportion of total 2010 catch) are:• Skipjack tuna: 58 per cent• Yellowfin tuna: 26 per cent• Bigeye tuna: 8 per cent• Albacore tuna: 5 per cent• Southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii): 1 per cent• Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis): 1 per cent• Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus): 1 per centSkipjack stocks are slightly increasing, meaning that in principle itshould be possible to catch more of them. The problem with skipjackfishery, however, is that young bigeye and yellowfin tunabecome caught in the net as bycatch. As several species oftenoccur together it is difficult to catch only one species at a time.Accordingly, experts advise that any expansion of the skipjackfishery should be very closely monitored. There are also fears thatall tuna stocks will further decline in the medium term if commercialfishing continues at the intensive rate of today. The bluefintuna in particular is under threat. For this reason, in 2010 attemptswere made to protect this species in accordance with the Conventionon International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Faunaand Flora (CITES). This convention governs the import and exportof endangered plants and animals. More than 170 nations havejoined the convention since it came into effect in 1974.Non-governmental organizations in particular have called forCITES to protect the bluefin tuna. The species is so popular, theyclaim, that commercial fishing is still economically viable even ifonly a few of them are caught in the net each time. The bluefincould become completely extinct. Opponents counter that overexploitationcannot be compared with extinction, that fishermenwould stop fishing if it were no longer in their economic intereststo continue. Even then, sufficient fish would remain to ensure thesurvival of the species. Whether CITES requirements can be usedat all for ocean fish is doubtful, they say. So far, no internationalagreement has been reached on strict protection based on CITEScriteria. It currently appears that the future protection of the bluefintuna will be governed by the International Commission for theConservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Whether this will workremains to be seen.3.9 > Catchingyellowfin tuna usedto involve backbreakingmanual labour,as seen here off theGalápagos Islandsin the 1930s.


Plenty more fish in the sea? Tins of tunagenerally contain theflesh of widespreadspecies such as theskipjack tuna. Nonetheless,consumersshould ensure thatthe products they buyare from sustainablefisheries.


56> Chapter 03Catch (million tonnes)876543210PeruviananchovyAlaskapollack3.11 > The ten mostimportant ocean fishspecies and theirworldwide catchtotals. As a result ofthe El Niño climaticphenomenon, catchesof the Peruviananchovy in particularfluctuate from yearto year.SkipjacktunaAtlanticherringPacific chubmackerelCutlassfishEuropeanpilchardJapaneseanchovyCatch 2006Catch 2010YellowfintunaAtlanticcodstocks can be decimated. This example also teaches usthat a stock can regenerate rapidly due to the ability of thefish to reproduce profusely.Other species of fish and stocks, however, are notcapable of recovering so quickly from overfishing. Oneexample of this is the Northeast Atlantic mackerel.The Northeast Atlantic mackerel –departure from the North SeaThe Northeast Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) fisherycomprises three components: the western, the southernand the North Sea stock. Each has its own spawninggrounds. The North Sea mackerel spawn along the eastcoast of Britain, the southern component in the Bay of Biscayand off the Iberian Peninsula and the western componentto the west of the British Isles and Ireland.In spring, when the plankton proliferates in responseto rising temperatures, the mackerel of all three stocksgather in large hunting schools and migrate to the regionbetween the Shetland Islands and Norway. They latergradually leave this nutrient-rich summer feeding area tospawn in the three regions mentioned above. They displayan amazing swarming instinct: by no means all the firsttimespawners return to their traditional spawninggrounds, but often follow the majority of the mackerel.The North Sea mackerel used to be the largest component,so many first-time spawners were attracted to the NorthSea. However, stocks of this component collapsed in the1970s due to overfishing.Although the fishery was completely closed, the componenthas still not recovered. The western stock componentthen became the most prominent. The repercussionsare clear: many mackerel which today begin their lives inthe North Sea follow the main flow of fish towards thewest when they first spawn. This occurs even in goodyears. Even when there are plenty of young fish in theNorth Sea most of them migrate westwards to spawn. Thefact that there are still mackerel in the North Sea presumablymeans that a certain proportion of them continue tofrequent the spawning grounds on England’s east coast.The question is whether a major mackerel stock will everagain be able to establish itself in the North Sea.It is interesting that the Northeast Atlantic mackerelhas apparently been increasingly orienting itself towardsthe west in recent years. The early-summer migration hasbeen taking them more regularly into Icelandic waters. Asa result, Iceland’s mackerel catches have soared from4000 to 200,000 tonnes in only three years. Scientists areworried about the development because for years now toomany mackerel have been caught. The reason is that thelittoral states – the Faroes, Iceland, Norway, Russia andthe European Union – cannot agree on lower catches.Each nation sets its own limits. When added together thetotal catch far exceeds the annual tonnage recommendedby scientists. Fears that Northeast Atlantic mackerelstocks will be completely overexploited in the comingyears are therefore justified.The European hake (southern stock) –haggling over catch numbersThe future of the European hake (southern stock) in theBay of Biscay and west of the Iberian Peninsula is alsouncertain. This is a classic example of how difficult it is toaccurately assess a stock. And it also shows that if indoubt, a fishing nation tends to continue fishing ratherthan protect a fish population.The hake debate is difficult, mainly because the speciesseems to have been proliferating more rapidly overthe past two years than had been observed previously. Itsspawning biomass levels are increasing. ICES scientists,however, believe that for some time now, probably since


Plenty more fish in the sea? Resolute fisheriesmanagementcan ensure the recoveryof a fish stock.After the North Seaherring was overfishedin the 1960s(as revealed by thedrop in spawning biomass),the fishery wascompletely closed.The stock, particularlythe numbers ofsexually mature fish(spawners), regenerated.After renewedover-fishing in the1990s a managementplan was agreed in1997, which onceagain limited catches.The spawning stockwas able to recover.The reduction ofspawning biomasssince 2002 can presumablybe ascribedto climatic changes.Purse seineA purse seine is a netthat is used to encirclea school of fish. Thenet is then drawntogether to retain thefish by using a line atthe bottom, allowingthe net to be closedlike a purse.


58> Chapter 03The deep sea – remote and endangered> People have been fishing in the deep sea for over half a century. Overtime, ever deeper ocean regions have become accessible to deep-sea fisheries. These hidden habitatsare doubly endangered, because they are home to rare as well as sensitive organisms. Fortunately, theknowledge that these ecosystems require special protection is gradually becoming accepted.Fishing in the darkThe assertion that the moon has been more thoroughlyresearched than the deep sea is still true. The deep searefers to the totally dark layers of the ocean below around800 metres.Submersible robotic vehicles that can penetrate to thedeepest parts of the ocean, the deep-sea trenches, havebeen in use for some time, but expeditions with these areexpensive and complex. So our knowledge of life at greatdepths is still fragmentary. At best, submersible vehiclesprovide only highlights in the vast darkness, and sea-floorsamples obtained with grab samplers or trawls deployedfrom research ships allow only isolated snapshots of thedeep-sea ecosystems.Although the impact of human encroachment on thesesystems is largely unknown, the deep ocean regions havebeen fished since the end of the Second World War. Atfirst, fishing mostly targeted species of Sebastes, at depthsof only a few hundred metres. Now fish are being caughtfrom depths around 2000 metres, where the living conditionsare fundamentally different from those in shallowregions. The Food and Agriculture Organization of theUnited Nations (FAO) defines deep-sea fisheries as thoseconducted between the depths of 200 and 2000 metres.Flourishing life in the darknessOff northwest Europe the transition from land to the seabottom is a gradual slope. Off the coast lies a sprawlingcontinental shelf. The North Sea is situated here as a shallow,offshore marginal sea. A similar situation is found offthe coast of China with the South China Sea. The widecontinental shelf ends at the break to the continentalslope, which falls more steeply to greater depths. Thereare also coasts, however, where the transition from theland to deep sea is more abrupt. Here the wide continentalshelves and marginal seas are absent. An example of thisis the coast of Japan, where the sea floor descends abruptlyand steeply into the depths.Distinctive structures rise from the sea floor all aroundthe world: submarine banks, ridges and seamounts. Abank is defined as a sea-floor elevation that can be severalhundred kilometres long or wide. Banks are composed ofsandy material or massive rock.The kind of fish that predominate in an area dependsin part on the bottom characteristics. Individual fish specieshave different modes of life. Some live close to thebottom. They are demersal. Other species swim in theopen water column and are called pelagic. There are alsospecies that live near the bottom, but rise into the watercolumn to hunt for food. These are benthopelagic species.It is amazing that special biological communities havedeveloped in the deep sea in spite of the darkness. Most ofthem have only been superficially investigated and biologistsare constantly discovering new species that have notyet been described. In recent years researchers have beenfocussing on cold-water corals in particular, as well as theecosystems around seamounts and at deep-sea hydrothermalvents and cold seeps. The great biological diversitydiscovered here was completely unexpected because thedeep sea had long been considered to be a dead and muddydesert. The species diversity in the deep sea was sensationalfor researchers.SeamountsSeamounts are underwater mountains that are formed byvolcanic activity and rise at least 1000 metres above the


Plenty more fish in the sea? The depth zones in the ocean. Diverse habitats such as black smokers or cold-water coral reefs have formed in these zones. Where differentspecies settle depends on the depth and structure of the sea floor among other factors.


60> Chapter 033.14 > Seamounts arecommonly locatedat volcanic structuressuch as the oceanridges, and sometimesform long chainsalong the sea floor.Seamounts with aheight between1000 and 3000 metresare marked in red,those higher than3000 metres in blue.sea floor. Some are 3000 or even 4000 metres high. Theirpeaks often rise up into the upper layers of the mesopelagiczone. Seamounts can be regarded as islands orvolcanoes that do not reach up to the sea surface. It waslong believed that these were rare occurrences. Today it isknown that seamounts are present in all oceans. The totalnumber is estimated in the thousands.Research has shown that some seamounts are home tocommunities of unique, endemic species. These includelower animals like sponges and sea cucumbers, relatives ofthe starfish, but also vertebrates such as fish, which canoccur in large schools around seamounts with high speciesdiversity. This makes the seamounts especially interestingfor fisheries.There are still many unanswered questions regardingthe significance of seamounts. Many scientists believethat seamounts act like gigantic stirring rods in the ocean,where small-scale eddies break off from the large oceancurrents. It is presumed that nutrients and dead plant andanimal remains from the epipelagic are trapped in theseeddies and attract fish. That would be a logical explana-tion for the high diversity at seamounts and the sometimesvery high fish densities. It is also known that migratorybirds on their transoceanic flights and large predatory fishlike sharks commonly hunt and feed in marine regionswith seamounts.Furthermore, sharks apparently use seamounts asgeomagnetic orientation points and sometimes mate therein large groups. Elsewhere, bigeye tuna may converge tohunt among the dense schools of prey fish. An example ofthis hunting is seen in eddies over the Hawaiian seamounts.Cold-water coralsCorals usually evoke a mental picture of idyllic South SeaIslands, white palm beaches and swarms of colourfulluminescent fish darting through clear waters suffusedwith light. Actually, however, some coral species also livein cold, deep water layers. They occur primarily in theAtlantic, off the coast of Norway or northwest of Ireland,but they are also found in the Pacific near Australia andNew Zealand.


Plenty more fish in the sea? Cold-watercorals occur worldwide.They can evenflourish at depths of2000 metres.ReefsReefs are narrow,elongated elevationson the sea floor. Coralreefs are composed ofthe carbonate skeletonsof corals, whichhave built up to formreefs several metreshigh over thousandsof years. Mussels canalso build reefs. Inaddition, there arereef-like sand banksand rocky reefs.


62> Chapter 03Exclusive economiczoneThe Exclusive EconomicZone (EEZ) isalso referred to asthe 200-nautical-milezone. Here, coastalstates have sovereignrights to the explorationand exploitationof living and nonlivingresources.This includes theexclusive use of fishstocks in one’s ownEEZ. Furthermore,within its own EEZa state may erectoffshore drilling rigsor wind farms.out in sunlight. The bacterial biomass provides the foundationfor higher life forms. The black smoker sites are alsopopulated by shrimp, fan-shaped gorgonian corals, or tubeworms.Today there are around 300 known black smoker sitesworldwide. Most of them are in the Pacific. There are,however, almost no commercially important fish speciesliving in these extreme habitats. It has only been knownfor a few years that cold seeps in the deep sea are specialand important habitats. Cold nutrient-rich water flows outof the sea floor here.During an expedition off the coast of Pakistan in 2007scientists discovered densely populated cold seeps. Thereare mussel banks, crabs, snails and sea cucumbers.Although experts had long known about heavily populatedcold seeps in the Gulf of Mexico, they were believed tobe an exceptional case. Actually, however, cold seeps arefound in numerous ocean regions. Off the coast of Pakistan,for example, the Arabian continental plate is beingpushed beneath the Eurasian plate. In the process, watercontained in the sediments is pressed out. It flows backinto the ocean through fissures in the bottom. Substancescontained in the water provide nutrition for bacteria andsmall animals, which in turn become food for higherorganisms such as crustaceans.The fish of the deep seaIn the nutrient-rich and highly productive coastal regions,massive reproduction is typical of many species, and thisensures their survival. Many deep-sea fish species, on theother hand, are characterized by slow growth, late sexualmaturity, long life, and the production of fewer offspring.They are adapted to life at great depths, to a habitat inwhich unchanging environmental conditions prevail. Thestrong temperature fluctuations that can impact the repro-Species Habitat Age at sexualmaturityMaximumage3.16 > Many fishspecies of interest tofisheries occur in thedeep water layers.Some do not reachsexual maturity until arelatively late age.Roundnose grenadier(Coryphaenoidesrupestris)Sablefish(Anoplopomafimbria)Continental slopeand sea floor;Northern Atlantic;600–800 mContinental slopeand sea floor;Northern Pacific;300–2700 m10 545 65Orange roughy(Hoplostethusatlanticus)Seamounts and banks;Atlantic,parts of the Pacific;180–1800 m20–40 >100Smooth oreo dory(Pseudocyttusmaculatus)Seamounts and banks;Southern Atlantic andPacific; 400–1500 m20–30 100Pacific ocean perch(Sebastes alutus)Seamounts and banks;Northern Pacific;180–640 m10 100


Plenty more fish in the sea? The orangeroughy lives at depthsdown to 1800 metres.High seasThe “high seas” arethe areas of the oceanto which all stateshave free access. Nocountry may claimsovereignty over anypart of the high seas.The high seas, wherefreedom of navigation,research andfishery are internationallyrecognized,begin at the boundaryof the 200-nauticalmilezone. Much ofthe deep-sea regionlies outside the EEZ,and is therefore partof the high seas. Allnations have the rightto exploit fish stocksthere.


64> Chapter 033.18 > The catches ofmany deep-sea fish,like the orange roughyshown here, declinedrapidly within just afew years because ofoverfishing.SablefishGrenadiersCuskLingGreenland halibutSebastes speciesOrange roughyOreosomatidaeWhiptailArmourhead3.19 > Over the years,the total catchesof deep-sea fisherieshave remainedhigh. However, thiswas only possiblebecause new specieshave replaced theoverfished stocks ofother species. Thefigure shows the totalamounts for differentspecies in each year.An example of overfishingof a deep-seaspecies is provided bythe armourhead, whichhad been fished byJapanese and Russiantrawlers at Pacificseamounts since the1960s. Within 10years the stocks wereso strongly reducedthat the species wascommercially depletedand abandoned byfisheries.Catch (in 1000 tonnes live weight)Catch (in 1000 tonnes live weight)100908070Pacific OceanIndian OceanAtlantic Ocean60504030201001975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 20051200100080060040020001950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010the K-strategists. For example, newly discovered stocks oforange roughy were reduced to 15 to 30 per cent of theiroriginal size within just 5 to 10 years. In many areas thespecies was commercially depleted. This “boom and bust”kind of fishery is typical in the pursuit of deep-sea fish species.The reason for this is that species like the orangeroughy not only produce a small number of offspring, theirreproductive performance is also very erratic and episodic.Several years can pass with low production of offspringbefore a strong season occurs again. It is still not knownwhat controls or triggers these fluctuations. Investigationsat the Great Meteor Seamount west of Madeira have indicatedan influence of changes in the winds affecting eddycurrents above the seamount.It is a certainty that the deep-sea species cannot compensatefor heavy fishing activity. Deep-sea fishing is alsoboth ecologically and economically questionable. For onething, it is very destructive, and for another the catchlevels are relatively low because most deep-sea fish stocksare comparatively small due to their K-strategy. Thus,taken as a whole, the deep-sea fisheries represent only asmall proportion of the worldwide catch amounts. Basicallythey can only be maintained because of the high subsidies,since the costs for fuel are high for the great distancesships often have to cruise out.Again and again over the years, new species that previouslywere not considered by fisheries have becomeinteresting, usually to replace species that were overfished.The pursuit of various species of Sebastes is astriking example of the substitution of an overfished speciesby a new one. The total catch has dropped since the1970s, but it has still remained at a comparatively highlevel. This has been possible because new species havebeen targeted.In the northeast Atlantic, starting in the 1950s,Sebastes marinus (golden redfish) was initially caught. In1980 it still made up more than 40 per cent of the catch ofSebastes species. But then the stocks declined. In the1990s Sebastes marinus made up less than 20 per cent ofthe total catch of Sebastes species in the northeast Atlantic.In lieu of Sebastes marinus, fishing of the Greenlandstocks of Sebastes mentella (deepwater redfish) intensified.In this region the species is mainly demersal. Asthese Greenland stocks shrank, the focus shifted to themore pelagic-living Sebastes mentella stocks in the openAtlantic. Due to restraints on fishing, it has been possiblefor some time now for the Sebastes mentella stocks offGreenland to recover.Destruction of unique habitatsMany species of deep-sea fish build up large stocks, especiallyat structures like seamounts, banks and cold-watercoral reefs. Fishing for these species represents a potentialthreat to the environment, especially when demersaltrawls are used that can destroy fragile corals. The prob-


Plenty more fish in the sea? In Norway’s Trondheimsfjordthe red bubble gum coral (Paragorgiaarborea) occurs beside the white stonycoral Lophelia pertusa. There arearound 1000 cold-water coral speciesworldwide.


66> Chapter 03Catching fish in international watersThe fish catch in international waters outside the EEZ is regulated bythe Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) andtheir member countries. These members include not only the borderingstates, but also countries that are heavily involved in fishing in agiven marine region. For example, China and Japan also fish in thenortheast Atlantic. This is consistent with international maritime lawand completely legitimate according to the principle of freedom ofaccess to the high seas. The European countries, in turn, are representedin numerous RFMOs through the European Commission.Annual negotiations are held to determine which countries areallowed to catch how much of a species. Almost all commerciallyrelevant fish species are covered by the RFMOs.There are specific RFMOs for the management of certain fishspecies, for example, salmon and pollock. The catch of highly migratoryspecies, above all tuna, is also regulated by special RFMOs. Inthese, the countries that carry out tuna fishing are represented as arethe bordering and coastal states whose Exclusive Economic Zones areadjacent to the fishing ground. This also takes into consideration thefact that tuna, in contrast to most fish species, do not live in geographicallydefined stocks. Sharks are covered, in part, as a subgroupof the ICCAT.There are only a few remaining marine regions today that are notsupervised by RFMOs, or that are insufficiently supervised due to apolitical situation. These include the Indian Ocean around the Hornof Africa. Although the area is covered by the IOTC, fishing cannotbe regulated due to piracy. Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing(IUU fishing) is common there. The Arctic, on the other hand, isnot yet managed by RFMOs because fishing there is rare. With thegrowing worldwide demand for fish, however, this region couldbecome more interesting for fisheries in the future.NEAFCCCBSPNASCONAFOGFCMCCBSPSPRFMOSEAFOCCAMLRSIOFASPRFMO3.21


Plenty more fish in the sea? RFMOs that manage fish stocks by region:3.22 > RFMOs that manage highly migratory fish species, mainly tuna:• North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC)• Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO)• North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO)• South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO)• South Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA)• South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation(SPRFMO)• Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine LivingResources (CCAMLR)• General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)• Convention on the Conservation and Management of PollockResources in the Central Bering Sea (CCBSP)• International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas(ICCAT)• Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)• Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)• Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC)• Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program(AIDCP)• Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna(CCSBT)


68> Chapter 033.23 > Rockall, offIreland. At its baseis a marine areaconsidered to be oneof the most speciesrichand deservingof protection in thenortheast Atlantic.lem is that corals grow very slowly, usually only a fewmillimetres each year. So it can take decades for the habitatsto recover. Studies at several neighbouring seamountsoff Tasmania have shown that 43 per cent of the specieswere previously unknown and thus could be unique. Inareas where demersal trawls were used, the total numberof species was diminished to 59 per cent of the originalnumber. 95 per cent of the surface was reduced to bare,stony bedrock. It is thus highly conceivable that endemicspecies that only exist at a single seamount could be completelyexterminated.Is it possible to protect the deep sea?species that are vulnerable to overfishing. They relate tomethods by which the fishing gear comes into contactwith the sea floor. These guidelines, by definition, shouldregulate protection in international waters outside theExclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), where freedom of theseas and fishing is recognized. The FAO refers to areasdeserving protection as vulnerable marine ecosystems(VMEs). In addition to banks, seamounts and cold-watercoral areas, these include large species-rich sponge communitiesas well as densely populated undersea hydrothermalvents and cold seeps. The following criteria areused to determine whether a marine area is given the statusof a VME:In 2008, in response to the growing knowledge that deepseahabitats are especially threatened by fisheries, theFAO established the International Guidelines for the Managementof Deep-sea Fisheries in the High Seas. Theseguidelines are not legally binding. They do, however,contain clear recommendations for the protection of fish1. UNIQUENESS OR RARITY:Ecosystems that are unique or contain rare species. Theloss of the ecosystem cannot be compensated for bysimilar ecosystems. These include: habitats with endemicspecies, habitats with endangered species, breeding orspawning areas.


Plenty more fish in the sea?


70> Chapter 03Illegal fishing> In many maritime regions of the world, illegal fishing has massively contributedto the depletion of fish stocks, especially in developing countries’ coastal waters. Betterinternational cooperation to control fishing vessels is now being launched. The aim is to eliminateillegal fishing in future.Unscrupulous fishing worsens the problemsNowadays, the world’s fish stocks are not only underthreat from intensive legal fishing activities; they are alsoat risk from illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.It is difficult to estimate precisely the total catch frompirate fishing. Researchers are engaged in the painstakingprocess of collating data from various countries’ fisheriescontrol agencies, experts’ estimates, trade figures and thefindings of independent research expeditions in order toarrive at an approximate figure for the total IUU catch. Asthis is a black market, however, estimates are bound to beunreliable. Some experts put the annual figure at around11 million tonnes; others suggest that it may be as high as26 million tonnes – equal to 14 or 33 per cent respectivelyof the world’s total legal catch (fish and other marinefauna) in 2011. These catches are additional to the worldannual catch of fish and other marine fauna, currently78.9 million tonnes.For many years, however, too little account was takenof IUU fishing in estimates of fish stocks. This is problematical,for unless the IUU share is factored into the calculations,the legal catch quotas for a given maritime regioncannot be determined correctly. Based on the assumptionthat less fish is being caught than is in fact the case,experts overestimate the size of the stock and set the followingyear’s catch quotas too high, potentially entrenchingand accelerating the overexploitation of the stock.IUU fishing also exacerbates the problem of overfishingbecause IUU vessels even operate in marine protectedareas where a total fishing ban has been imposed. It alsopays little or no heed to fisheries management planswhich are intended to conserve overexploited or depletedstocks.However, the main reason why IUU fishing is a particularlycritical issue today is that many fish stocks havealready been overexploited by legal fishing activities. IUUfishing therefore puts fish stocks under additional pressure.If stocks were being managed sustainably, on theother hand, IUU fishing would no longer exacerbate analready difficult situation to the extent that it does today.The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UnitedNations (FAO) defines three categories of IUU fishing:ILLEGAL FISHING refers to fishing activities conductedby foreign vessels without permission in waters under thejurisdiction of another state, or which contravene its fisherieslaw and regulations in some other manner – forexample, by disregarding fishing times or the existence ofthe state’s protected areas. For example, some IUU vesselsoperate in waters under the jurisdiction of West Africanstates. As these countries generally cannot afford toestablish effective fisheries control structures, the IUUvessels are able, in many cases, to operate with impunity.UNREPORTED FISHING refers to fishing activities whichhave not been reported, or have been misreported, by thevessels to the relevant national authority. For example,some vessels harvest more tonnage than they are entitledto catch under official fishing quotas. In 2006, for example,several Spanish trawlers were inspected by the NorwegianCoast Guard near Svalbard (Spitsbergen). Thetrawlers were found to hold not only the reported catch ofheaded and gutted cod but also a total of 600 tonnes of codfillets which had not been reported to the Norwegianauthorities. The Norwegian authorities subsequentlyimposed fines on the Spanish trawler company equivalentto 2 million euros.


Plenty more fish in the sea? A chase at seanear South Korea:an entire fleet ofillegal Chinese fishingvessels attempts toevade the SouthKorean Coast Guard.The fishermen werearrested by armedunits soon afterwards.UNREGULATED FISHING refers to fishing activities inareas where there are no applicable management measuresto regulate the catch; this is the case in the SouthAtlantic, for example. The term also applies to fishing forhighly migratory species and certain species of shark,which is not regulated by a Regional Fisheries ManagementOrganization (RFMO). And finally, the term appliesto fishing activities in international waters in violation ofregulations established by the relevant RFMO.Although unregulated fishing is not in fact illegalunder the law of nations applicable to the high seas, it isnonetheless problematical. It results in additional fishbeing caught over and above the maximum catches agreedby RFMO member states for their respective regions.As a result, fully exploited stocks can easily become overexploited.Furthermore, IUU fishermen often ignore theexistence of marine protected areas established by theRegional Fisheries Management Organizations to supportthe recovery of overexploited stocks.Why does IUU fishing exist?From the fishermen’s perspective, IUU fishing is highlyattractive as they pay no taxes or duties on these catches.A further reason why IUU fishing takes place on such alarge scale is that it can often be practised with impunity.This is mainly the case in the territorial waters or exclusiveeconomic zones of countries which cannot afford toset up costly and complex fisheries control structures suchas those existing in Europe.The situation is especially difficult in the developingcountries. In a comprehensive analysis of IUU fishingworldwide, researchers conclude that IUU fishing is mainlypractised in countries which exhibit typical symptomsof weak governance: large-scale corruption, ambivalentlegislation, and a lack of will or capacity to enforce existingnational legislation.The Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC), comprisingseven member states in West Africa (Cape Verde,


72> Chapter 033.25 > Transshipment is typical of IUUfishing. As seen here off the coast ofIndonesia, smaller fishing vessels transfertheir illegally caught fish onto largerrefrigerated transport ships (reefers). Thefishing vessels are restocked with fuel andsupplies at the same time, enabling themto remain at sea for many months.


Plenty more fish in the sea?


74> Chapter 033.26 > Differentspecies groups (fishand other marinefauna) are affectedby IUU fishing tovarying degrees. Oneparticular study hasshown that from2000 to 2003, IUUfishing mainlytargeted demersalspecies (i.e. thosewhich live and feed onor near the bottom ofthe sea). The figureshows the illegal andunreported catch,as a percentage ofreported catch, byspecies group.Percentage100806040200Misc. demersalfishesSalmons, troutsand smeltsMisc. coastal fishesLobsters,spiny-rock lobstersCods, hakes,haddocksShrimps, prawnsOystersSquids, cuttlefishes,octopusesHerrings, sardines,anchovisMisc. marinecrustaceansMisc. pelagic fishesScallops, pectensCrabs, sea spidersClams, cockles,arkshellsmarine fish neiTunas, bonitos,billfishesFlounders, halibuts,solesshow that even fishermen from EU countries are notimmune to temptation and that the prospect of a healthyprofit may persuade them to fish illegally.The problem is exacerbated by the fact that not everyIUU vessel needs to put into port in order to land its catchimmediately. In many cases, especially off the coast ofWest Africa, the smaller fishing vessels load their catchonto larger refrigerated ships (known as reefers) while atsea. During this transshipment, fishermen on board arealso resupplied with food and fuel, enabling them toremain at sea for many months.The Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) concludesthat some IUU vessels off West Africa are in operation365 days of the year, putting massive pressure on fishstocks. The refrigerated ships then make for ports in countrieswith lax controls, enabling them to land their catchesunhindered.The practice of using a flag of convenience (FOC) alsomakes it easier to engage in IUU fishing activity. Instead ofregistering the ships in the shipping company’s homestate, IUU fishers operate their vessels under the flag ofanother state, such as Belize, Liberia or Panama, with lessstringent regulations or ineffective control over the operationsof its flagged vessels.By switching to a foreign register of ships, restrictiveemployment legislation and minimum wage provisions inthe home country can also be circumvented, allowing theshipping companies to pay lower wages and social insurancecontributions for their crews than if the vessel wereregistered in Germany, for example. Furthermore, fisherieslegislation in “flag-of-convenience” states is oftenextremely lax. These countries rarely, if ever, inspect theirvessels for illegal catches.Monitoring of onboard working conditions is alsoinadequate, and conditions are correspondingly poor. Thefishermen work for low wages on vessels whose standardsof accommodation are spartan in the extreme, andwhich rarely comply with the current safety standardsapplicable to merchant shipping under the InternationalConvention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS regulations).The Convention contains exact details of equipmentthat must be available to ensure safety on board.


Plenty more fish in the sea? An armed unitof the South KoreanCoast Guard arrestsChinese fishermenwho have been fishingillegally in SouthKorean waters.Very few countriescan afford such effectivefisheries controlstructures.


76> Chapter 03LandearthstationMarinemonitoringcentre3.28 > Nowadays,fishing vessels mustbe equipped withelectronic devices, or“blue boxes”, whichform part of thesatellite-based vesselmonitoring system(VMS). The blue boxregularly sends dataabout the locationof the vessel to thefisheries monitoringcentre (FMC). Vesselsare also equippedwith GPS transmitterswhich track the ship’sspeed and position.VMS satelliteMarine protection vesselGPS satelliteFishing vesselIf a ship lacks any of the relevant documentation, it is notpermitted to land its catch and must head instead for a portoutside the EU. Permission to land the catch is also refusedif there are any discrepancies between the figures given inthe catch certificate and the daily entries in the electroniclogbook. In this case, the fisheries control agency – in Germany,this is the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food –may require vessel monitoring data to be produced. Nowadays,electronic devices, or “blue boxes”, are installed onboard fishing vessels and form part of the satellite-basedvessel monitoring system (VMS). The blue box regularlysends data about the location of the vessel to the fisheriesmonitoring centre (FMC) responsible for the area wherethe vessel is currently fishing. If the vessel enters territorialwaters or fishing grounds where it is not permitted tofish, the master of the vessel can be prosecuted.In suspicious cases, the state in which the fish is to belanded may request the VMS data from the state in whosewaters the vessel has been fishing. Furthermore, the landingprocedure is observed in each EU port. The fisheriescontrol agency checks how much is being landed andwhich species comprise the catch. Random checks arealso carried out periodically. Relevant measures have beenagreed by the EU and the other countries belonging to theNorth East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC),including Iceland and Norway, putting this region beyondthe reach of IUU fishermen.The same applies to the Northwest Atlantic, ports inthe US, Canada and other member states of the NorthwestAtlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), such as Denmark,Iceland and Norway.The example of Mauritania shows that more stringentcontrols can be introduced to good effect in developingcountries as well. VMS-based monitoring of vessels andcontrols of landings in port have largely eliminated IUUfishing here.The FAO has been lobbying for many years for stringentand uniform controls worldwide and is a firm advocateof close cooperation among ports. It takes the viewthat a concerted approach by ports will make it more difficultfor IUU fishing vessels to find a port where they canland their catches without fear of repercussions. However,ports derive an income stream from the charges theyimpose on vessels using their facilities. Ports which areused by a large number of vessels generate very largeamounts of revenue, and for some ports, this takes precedenceover the protection of fish stocks. Although a draftAgreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter andEliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing hasexisted for a good three years, based on the FAO Code ofConduct, no specific measures to enforce global actionhave been adopted yet.A further initiative to combat IUU fishing consists ofthe blacklists held by the RFMOs. These include details ofvessels which have attempted at some point to land IUUfish at an RFMO port. Port and fisheries control authoritiesregularly refer to these blacklists. This “name andshame” policy is intended to make it even more difficultfor IUU vessels to find ports where they can land theircatches. However, here too, states must be willing tocooperate in order to combat IUU fishing effectively. Aslong as the lack of international coordination allows loopholesto exist, IUU fishing will continue.


Plenty more fish in the sea?


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Bibliography and Table of Figure


Publication detailsProject manager: Jan LehmkösterEditing and text: Tim SchröderCopy editing: Dimitri LadischenskyCoordinator at the Cluster of Excellence: Dr. Jörn SchmidtEditorial team at the Cluster of Excellence: Dr. Jörn Schmidt, Dr. Rüdiger Voss, Dr. Kirsten SchäferDesign and typesetting: Simone HoschackPhoto-editing: Petra Kossmann, Peggy WellerdtGraphics: Walther-Maria ScheidPrinting: DBM Druckhaus Berlin-Mitte GmbHPaper: Recysatin, FSC-certifiedISBN 978-3-86648-201-2Published by: maribus gGmbH, Pickhuben 2, 20457 Hamburgwww.maribus.comclimate-neutral

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