Governing South Antarctic Krill Fishing

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Can’t talk about South Antarctic krill without addressing the governing body that regulates South Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) fishing, as well as other marine commercial activities in this area. This is the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, called CCAMLR.

CCAMLR’s website (http://www.ccamlr.org) is the principal tool for communicating with its Members as well as members of the public who are interested in Antarctic marine conservation.  The website is written on CCAMLR’s four official languages (English, French, Russian & Spanish).

The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) was established by the international convention in 1982 with the objective of conserving Antarctic marine life. This was in response to increasing commercial interest in Antarctic krill resources, a keystone component of the Antarctic ecosystem.

Being responsible for the conservation of Antarctic marine ecosystems, CCAMLR practices an ecosystem-based management approach. This does not exclude harvesting as long as such harvesting is carried out in a sustainable manner and takes account of the effects of fishing on other components of the ecosystem.

CCAMLR is an international commission with 25 Members, and a further 10 countries have acceded to the Convention. Based on the best available scientific information, the Commission agrees a set of conservation measures that determine the use of marine living resources in the Antarctic.

The key institutional components of CCAMLR are:

1.The CAMLR Convention, which entered into force on April 7th 1982.

2. A decision-making body, the Commission.

3. A Scientific Committee, which advises the Commission using the best available science.

4. Conservation measures and resolutions.

5. CCAMLR’s Membership and provisions for international cooperation and collaboration.

6. A Secretariat based in Hobart, Tasmania, which supports the work of the Commission.

 

Notifications for Fishery” is one significant matter that confronts precautionary and commercial activities.  This is one area we think needs to be polished in order to prevent current abuse seen between the “desire to fish krill” against the “real capture fishing activity”.  The former relies more on the “political” decision by countries/companies. Their need “to be seen with fisheries activities”, no matter if this is going to be accomplished or not.

It has become a normal practice of private fishing companies (not counting 70s and 80s USSR Government subsidized and regulated fishing activities) to ask for large fishing quotas, even when they know in advance they will not accomplish any fishing activity.

As private fishing companies have to ask CCAMLR for their fishing quotas through their government authorities (been the latter their official representatives at CCAMLR) both fall in a practice that needs some sort of regulation.  It is a malpractice, voluntarily and/or involuntarily.

We have seen government officials involuntarily assuming as real what their national commercial companies apply for fishing. There is also the case when it is a mutual decision between government officials and national fishing corporations to request large fishing volumes in order to create a sort of “historical” presence and “pending-to-accomplish” fishing activity, no matter if these will be accomplished or not.

The question is how to separate real fishing requests which later cannot be accomplished because of financial or technical reasons, versus the “political maneuvering” of quota request knowing it will not be performed.

Lets take for example krill seasons 2007/2008 and 2008/2009, each season starting December 1st ending November 30th of the following year.

For 2007/08, notifications for krill fishing added 764 000 tons for 25 vessels.  CCAMLR’s final data indicated that eight vessels from six Member countries targeted krill in with a total catch of 156 521 tons of krill by the beginning of October 2008.  All fishing occurred in Area 48. (As a comparison, the total catch of krill reported in 2006/07, to the end of November, was 104 586 tons.)

Krill season 2008/2009 total catch of krill notified was 629 000 tons expected to be caught by 18 vessels. This was the second year running that the notified catch was in excess of the trigger level in Area 48 (620 000 tons).  Notifications to fish for krill were received from nine nations: Chile (one vessel), Cook Islands (one vessel), Japan (one vessel), Republic of Korea (three vessels), Norway (four vessels), Poland (one vessel), Russia (five vessels), Ukraine (one vessel) and the USA (one vessel). Four additional notifications from the USA and one notification from Ukraine were also submitted and subsequently withdrawn.

All notifications were for fishing in Area 48 and additionally there was one Russian notification that included krill fishing in Area 58. The US and Russian notifications also indicated that their vessels intended to fish for krill in Subarea 48.3 during summer which is a departure from previous practice.

Finally, the Commission noted that only five Members and six vessels targeted krill in 2008/09 in accordance with conservation measures in force. A total catch of 123 948 tons of krill was reported by the end of September 2009.

The krill catch in 2008/09 was taken from Subareas 48.1 and 48.2 and there was <1 ton caught from Subarea 48.3.

If protecting krill resource is the final target, having notifications exceeding in some seasons 5 or 6 times as much as real capture, it should force the discussion on how to force applicants to foresee and apply for quotas using real capture intentions.

The 2012/2013 notifications will bring values around 700 000 tons from eight nations and 19 trawlers: Chile (two vessels), China (four vessel), Japan (one vessel), Republic of Korea (three vessels), Norway (three vessels), Poland (two vessels), Ukraine (two vessels), and Germany (two vessels).  We do not foresee this to be accomplished either.

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