New Zealand to help Tonga develop a well-managed & sustainable deepwater line fishery

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I just saw a wee snippet in Dive New Zealand:

The $2.7m NZ government-funded project draws expertise from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), the South Pacific community, Tonga’s government and fishing industry. The aim is to develop a well-managed, sustainable line fishery for deepwater fish in Tonga’s Exclusive Economic Zone. 

This Tongan aid programme was first announced last month by NIWA in a press release:

New Zealand helps Tongan deepwater fisheries development

A programme to help Tonga maximise the economic benefits of commercial fishing has been launched in the country’s capital, Nuku’alofa.

Coinciding with a visit to Tonga by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, the $2.7m NZ government-funded project draws together expertise from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), the Secretariat for the Pacific Community, Tonga’s government and fishing industry.

The aim is to develop a well-managed, sustainable line fishery for deepwater fish in Tonga’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

Project leader and NIWA fisheries scientist Dr Stuart Hanchet said the project was funded by the NZ Aid Partnership Programme and partners will explore ways to maximise economic returns and develop new market opportunities.

“Biological sustainability and improved management are also key objectives,” Dr Hanchet said.

The project builds on the recently approved Tongan Deepwater Fisheries Management Plan by providing key information to support implementation of the plan.

Sustainable development in Tonga

The Agenda 21 website provides a good overview on sustainable development in Tonga:

The Agenda 21 was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The Conference recommended that States consider preparing national reports and communicating the information therein to the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) including, activities they undertake to implement Agenda 21, the obstacles and challenges they confront, and other environment and development issues they find relevant.

The Johannesburg Summit 2002 (the World Summit on Sustainable Development) organised by UN Commission on Sustainable Development focused on strategies for meeting challenges that best humanity going forward, including improving people’s lives and conserving our natural resources in a world that is growing in population, with ever-increasing demands for food, water, shelter, sanitation, energy, health services and economic security.

Also see: NZ announces “sustainable” development assistance for Tonga

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Study Shows that Illegal Unrported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing nets Billions Of Dollars Per Year

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Environment Correspondent Deborah Zabarenko writes in Scientific American (8 May 2013) that Fish Piracy Costs Up to $23 Billion a Year. Illegal Unreported Unregulated (IUU) Fishing or (Fish piracy as its called in this article) – is seafood caught that is illegally, not reported to authorities or outside environmental and catch regulations – represents as much as $10 billion to $23 billion in global losses each year, OCEANA (a non-profit conservation group) estimated Wednesday.

“Because pirated fish is sold on black markets, specifics of the economic impact are tough to decipher. But Oceana, a Washington-based organization, looked at the records of fish catches by country as reported to the United Nations, and then compared those statistics to seafood sales in various world markets. When these numbers didn’t match up, the group estimated the amount lost through fish piracy, a practice that U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator Jane Lubchenco has called “one of the most serious threats to American fishing jobs and fishing communities.”

The report said illegal trade could account for 11 million to 25 million metric tons of seafood, a minimum of 20 percent of seafood worldwide. Illegal fishing targets some of the most expensive species, including shrimp, fugu pufferfish, lobster, whole abalone and sea urchin uni. Penalties are often a fraction of potential profit, the report found. In one U.S. case, an illegal catch worth up to USD 1 million brought a USD 3,500 penalty.

The report estimated that illegal trade threatens 260 million jobs dependant on marine fisheries. For example, the shark fin trade in Hong Kong suggests that three to four times more sharks are being killed than official reports say, with USD 292 million to USD 476 worth of shark fins sold. Oceana said that Florida law enforcement agents’ estimates showed that one illegal operator stole USD 1,400 a week from legal operators by exceeding the catch limit on king mackerel.

Fishermen who comply with legal standards can also lose business when they sell in the same market as illegal operators who don’t follow environmental or sanitary standards, the report found.

In addition, adults and children have been trafficked into service on illegal fishing ships, making a catch more lucrative, the report said. Annual black market sales of bluefin tuna may reach USD 4 billion, with the amount of illegally caught fish five to 10 times higher than the official catch, according to Oceana.”

IUU Fishing vessel from Gabon. Photo by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  Source: http://denstormerpresents.com/2013/01/16/top-10-countries-involved-in-illegal-unreported-and-unregulated-fishing/

IUU Fishing vessel from Gabon. Photo by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Source: http://denstormerpresents.com/2013/01/16/top-10-countries-involved-in-illegal-unreported-and-unregulated-fishing/

Stealing Fish

According to the Scientific American article:

“Illegally caught Russian sockeye salmon is estimated to be 60 percent to 90 percent above reported levels, a loss of $40 million to $74 million, according to Oceana. Annual black market sales of bluefin tuna may reach $4 billion, with the amount of illegally caught fish five to 10 times higher than the official catch, the report said.

“I don’t think people think of fish as valuable, and when they think of crime, I don’t think they think about seafood,” Oceana senior scientist Margot Stiles said in a telephone interview. “But behind closed doors and out at sea, there’s all this money made by stealing fish.”

In the past, governments have stepped up enforcement to combat the problem, but that approach was limited. Stiles suggested a two-part solution: first, cut back government fishing subsidies, which ultimately pay for some of the illegal catch, and increase seafood tracking from its source to the consumer.

Using the same technology as in the package delivery industry, some large seafood dealers, markets and restaurants are already tracking fish. MJ Gimbar, chief fishmonger at Black Salt Fish Market in Washington, said his company’s program is inexpensive to implement and offers customers assurances about what they are buying: “It allows them to put a face with the fish.”

The market’s website offers species-specific information on the sources of its seafood [click here to access the black restaurant group website]. Oceana reported in February that one-third of seafood tested in the United States was mislabeled, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines.”

IUU Fishing

To access Oceana’s full report, please click here (Stolen Seafood: The impact of pirate fishing on our oceans).

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently released its 2013 Biennial Report to Congress on International Fishing Activities. There report can be obtained here. The National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA’s fisheries arm, identified 10 countries with: (1) fishing vessels engaged in illegal unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in 2011 or 2012, or (2) ineffective measures to prevent the unintended catch of protected species in 2012.

An FAO report addresses a number of questions with respect to Fishing capacity management and IUU fishing in the Asia-Pacific Region:

  • What are the greatest IUU fishing issues reported by member countries?
  • Where are vessels of the region that are engaged in foreign fishing operating?
  • Do countries of the region control IUU fishing in other countries or on the high seas by their nationals?
  • To what extent have national plans of action been developed to address IUU fishing?

According to the FAO Report:

“The Asian region accounts for about 50 percent of global wild capture fisheries production and about 90 percent of aquaculture production. The sustainable management of these fisheries resources, therefore, is an activity of global importance as well as being critical to countries of the region. However, the history of exploitation of wild fish stocks of the region has been one of sequential overexploitation, open access fisheries and low profitability. Despite this history, there has been a growing recognition in recent years of the need to manage fish stocks for long-term sustainability. This regional synthesis summarizes information, based on responses to questionnaires sent to 15 countries of the region and previously available information, on the current status of the management of fishing capacity and how countries of the region are addressing illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing by both national and foreign fleets.”

The FAO highlighted:

“A lack of policy and operational tools in the region was highlighted by many countries, with only 50 percent of the major fisheries having management plans. Methods for measuring fishing capacity, such as vessel licensing systems or census data, and catch and effort data systems are often being poorly developed and monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) capabilities generally inadequate. IUU remains a major issue to be addressed although the recent Asia-Pacific Fisheries Commission (APFIC) “call for action” and the Regional Plan of Action for Responsible Fisheries, signed by 11 countries, may provide a template for regional action and coordination on this.”

The Risk to Maui’s Dolphins apportioned to West Coast North Island Fishermen, while Coastal Marine Mining Companies continue Onward!

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In a recent blog post (Maui’s Dolphins: Swimming in a sea of all sorts of mischief?) I provided a discussion of the present Maui’s Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui) saga. Which according to the Department of Conservation (DOC):

“[…] is the world’s smallest dolphin and is found only on the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand and nowhere else in the world. It is New Zealand’s rarest dolphin […] with a DOC-commissioned 2012 study estimated the Maui’s dolphin population to consist of 55 with a 95% confidence interval of between 48 to 69.”

I provided an overview of the controversial science or lack thereof, the political point scoring and the general misrepresentation that has seen a genuine conservation issue, turn into one of of full blown emotive advocacy. This post argued that in the absence of robust objective science a fall back default position of fishermen culpability has been spear headed by eNGOs, the media and a number of politicians is dogmatic making ground:

[…] the drivers behind the population decline are still not known. Consequently marine scientists, eNGOs and the media have fallen back on their usual default driver – the Fishing Industry… in particularly set nets and inshore trawls.

This established default position has given birth to a one-dimensional strategy to ‘sort out’ the decline – to bar fishermen from fishing the habitat area of the dolphins with a regimen of spatial closures and fishing gear type bans… Unfortunately with a proposed cure already in place, the plight of the dolphins departed from what could have been a collaboration of parties towards a single goal of maui dolphin preservation, to one increasingly characterised by advocacy based science, political point scoring, lobbying and the passing of culpability.”

This default position has lead to the imposition of a number of protective measures being implemented by the Government. I refer to a Management fact sheet produced by the Ministry for Primary Industries:

“For Maui dolphins, there are now a range of fishing and other restrictions that extend across the entire area where they are most commonly found. The best-available information based on sightings indicates the areas where Maui are most commonly found occur within seven nautical miles from shore.  For Hector’s dolphins, the areas that pose the greatest risk to the Hector’s population are also covered by various fishing bans and restrictions. Combined, the area covered by restrictions on set netting (the fishing method known to pose the greatest risk), have increased by more than 600 percent between 2003 and 2012. Almost 15,000 square kilometres of the coastal environment is closed to set net activity.

In 2012, after a Hector’s or Maui dolphin mortality resulting from set net activity was reported in an area outside of the closures implemented by the Government, a closure out to two nautical miles offshore was put in place. DOC has also implemented five marine mammal sanctuaries surrounding key dolphin habitats.”

Map indicating the nature and extent of the interim measures in place for the purpose of protecting Maui's dolphins https://zen.nzherald.../03112MAUI1.pdf

Map indicating the nature and extent of the interim measures in place for the purpose of protecting Maui’s dolphins
https://zen.nzherald…/03112MAUI1.pdf

However to most these extensive measures are not enough. Marine scientists and eNGOs who without objective evidence, want fishing restrictions extended more (some like Slooten and eNGO’s like Forest and Bird, want it extended to the 100m contour). According to Dr. Liz Slooten (Associate Professor of Zoology at Otago University) an extension out to the 100m contour would then also provide and protect dolphin “corridors” where North Island Maui’s populations can travel south and mix with their southern cousins, and vice verser!

Distribution of Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins [which includes 'corridoes' that allow for Maui's to move south to mix with Southern Hector's Populations????] Source: http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/campaigns/mauis-and-hectors-dolphins/hectors-dolphins-distribution

Distribution of Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins [which includes ‘corridoes’ that allow for Maui’s to move south to mix with Southern Hector’s Populations????]
Source: http://www.forestandbird.org.nz/what-we-do/campaigns/mauis-and-hectors-dolphins/hectors-dolphins-distribution

The trouble is there is absolutely no evidence of Maui’s dolphins inhabiting areas in the deeper ‘oceanic’ areas in the vicinity of the 100m contour, there is no evidence of the existence of Hector/Maui Dolphin migration corridors exist. Furthermore it is scientifically accepted that the the two populations exist as seperate sub-species primarily because they they have not mixed for thousands of years!!!  What is Slooten advocating here?

This is the quality of the science that is driving this maui-dolphin soap opera. I am still wed to the position that if we cannot attack this conundrum objectively and accurately… The North Island Hector’s Dolphin (Maui’s Dolphin) will disappear.

Fishermen Culpability???

As I have explained above, the spatial closures have all but resigned the West Coast North Island seafood industry to the history books. New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen President Doug Saunders-Loder echoed this:

“The proposal to extend the set-net ban along the Taranaki coast while undertaking a review of Hector’s and Maui’s dolphins is a knee jerk reaction that does not consider the full picture. [We]want careful and successful management of this endangered species. However, this proposal puts the blame at the fishermen’s door and ignores all the other known factors including disease, pollution and predators such as sharks and orcas.”

With all the ‘j’accusory’ declarations focussed of the West Coast North Island seafood industry, I nearly fell off my chair when I was sent the link to a website the advocates for cessation of iron sand mining on West Coast North Island beaches the other day (http://kasm.org.nz/)

This website (Kiwis Against Seabed Mining) provides a map that shows the currently registered prospecting and exploration permits, as well as the continental shelf licences in New Zealand’s West Coast North Island marine environment.

map that shows the currently registered prospecting and exploration permits, as well as the continental shelf licences in New Zealand’s West Coast North Island marine environment. Source: http://kasm.org.nz/permits/permit-map/

Map illustrating currently registered prospecting and exploration permits, as well as the continental shelf licences in New Zealand’s West Coast North Island marine environment.
Source: http://kasm.org.nz/permits/permit-map/

When you compare this map that shows the currently registered prospecting and exploration permits, and the ones above show Maui dolphin habitats, and areas of fishing restrictions… The overlap is unmistakeable!

Hector's dolphins have a unique rounded dorsal...

Hector’s dolphins have a unique rounded dorsal fin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fisheries Management: A significant decrease in F is turning into a significant increase in fishstock biomass!

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I was sent this link to a fascinating article, Fishing in Freefall, (published on NFFO 11 April 2013) about the somewhat dramatic results that have emerged as a result of the reduction in F over the past ten years in the North East Atlantic.

News that of course contradicts the narrative which most NGO’s continue to present, illustrating that many eNGOs are operating in lag, their information base is historic and has been superseded by more recent management measures).

By the way:

F = fishing mortality (mortality of fish as a result of being fished).

Fishing in Freefall 

According to National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO), The International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES)’s most recent advice has confirmed that fishing pressure across the main commercial stocks has fallen to a remarkable degree.

This graph in the ICES advice illustrates vividly how after something like 70 years of incremental increases in fishing mortality (F), the trends after the year 2000 have taken a dramatic dive. This fall in fishing pressure coincides closely with the period during which an array of “cod recovery” measures were applied to EU fleets, although many other factors are undoubtedly involved. http://www.nffo.org.uk/news/nffo_fishing_in_freefall_2013.html

This graph in the ICES advice illustrates vividly how after something like 70 years of incremental increases in fishing mortality (F), the trends after the year 2000 have taken a dramatic dive. This fall in fishing pressure coincides closely with the period during which an array of “cod recovery” measures were applied to EU fleets, although many other factors are undoubtedly involved.
http://www.nffo.org.uk/news/nffo_fishing_in_freefall_2013.html

 

Fig. 1: The spawning stock biomass (SSB) and fishing mortality rate (F) of North  Sea cod from 1985 to 2012 (2011 for F). (Prior to the mid-1980s the  abundance of cod was influenced by the ‘gadoid outburst’ - see p. 4.) Source: I Napier (2013) Trends in Scottish Fish Stocks.  http://www.nafc.ac.uk/WebData/Files/Note%20-%202013-03-26%20-%20Trends%20in%20Fish%20Stocks.pdf

Fig. 1: The spawning stock biomass (SSB) and fishing mortality rate (F) of North
Sea cod from 1985 to 2012 (2011 for F). (Prior to the mid-1980s the
abundance of cod was influenced by the ‘gadoid outburst’ – see p. 4.)
Source: I Napier (2013) Trends in Scottish Fish Stocks.
http://www.nafc.ac.uk/WebData/Files/Note%20-%202013-03-26%20-%20Trends%20in%20Fish%20Stocks.pdf

Results show that Fishing mortality in the demersal and benthic stocks has been halved since 2000.

The fall in fishing mortality is remarkable in that it applies to all of the three main species groups pelagic (including herring and mackerel), demersal (including cod, haddock and whiting) and benthic (the flatfish including sole and plaice). It also applies right across the whole of the North East Atlantic area, including the North Sea and Baltic and waters around the UK.

Although the development of the pelagic stocks has taken a different course from the benthic and demersal, they are now rapidly catching up.

ICES summarises the situation:

Fishing Mortality for benthic stocks gradually increased over time until about year 2000 and have since reduced substantially. For demersal stocks the increase was steeper in the beginning of the time period, peaked around year 2000 and has reduced since. The pelagic stocks have had a very different development over time. F increased significantly in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This resulted in the well known collapse of several important herring and mackerel stocks. Since then, F has been quite low and stable and like for the other two types of stocks, has decreased since year 2000.”

In many respects this development will come as no great news to many fishermen who have seen the fishing fleets reduced by decommissioning, consolidation and attrition, to the extent that previously busy fishing grounds are now quite deserted. But it is important to acknowledge the significance of the fact that this trend is now established in scientific opinion and also to consider its implications.

 So what are the implications of these results?

On implication is a need to incorporate other aspects of mortality other than F when making management decisions. According to NFFO:

The clear shift to a lower fishing mortality rate brings with it the need rethink the way we approach both fisheries advice and fisheries management. When the overwhelming concern was to reduce fishing pressure because it was such a dominant factor, there was little need to think too deeply about multi-species interactions – they didn’t really come fully into play. But now that the impact of fishing has been reduced, the need to consider predation patterns and cannibalism becomes much more important, especially for informing management decisions.”

ICES’ view is that:

Stocks can become so large that they deplete their food sources and eventually eat their own kind. It is necessary therefore to think about the next steps in advice and management: It may be that it will be necessary to increase fishing pressure on some species to achieve an optimum balance.”

Another implication lies in the realm of public perception. For many years now the daily eNGO and media mantra has been “Global fish stocks are collapsing

But now it seems that this has changed. According to the NFFO:

“North Sea cod, the iconic fish and chips species [in the North Atlantic], is rebuilding steadily to safe biological levels; many stocks are at the management goal of maximum sustainable yield and others are on the way. The recovery of some stocks like North Sea plaice is nothing short of breath-taking, with a biomass beyond anything seen within the historical record.

This is not to say that there aren’t some stocks that have yet to respond in the same way: West of Scotland and Irish Sea Cod are two examples where other factors may be impeding recovery. But the dominant downward trend is too well established, too widespread in geographical terms and across so many diverse fisheries, to be dismissed as a statistical blip.”

So what is the driver of this decreased F?

The NNFO article maintains that:

The precise reasons why fishing mortality has dropped so decisively in recent years are not straightforward to discern. Numerous management initiatives have come into play simultaneously and disentangling which worked from which didn’t simply isn’t feasible after the event.”

According to the NFFO:

Fleet reductions, tradable quota, increased selectivity, landing controls, effort control, an altered industry mindset, cod avoidance including real time closures have all been in the mix. Some have undoubtedly contributed, others have had perverse effects.”

ICES points to improved compliance and better control:

For example in the Baltic Sea, Norway has been able to check the Russians in the Barents Sea. Other candidates include a move towards long term management plans, setting TACs in relation to maximum sustainable yield and better relations between the fishing industry and fisheries scientists. The answer lies surely in some combination of the above but the weight accorded to each is something that science cannot provide.”

Have these results been Peer Reviewed?

What instantly comes to mind apart from how quite remarkable and encouraging these trends are; is have these trends and results been written up. That is have the trends, the drivers and the implications outlined in the NFFO article been peer reviewed  in the scientific literature?

Well here are two:

Napier (2013) quantifies a trend showing the reduction in F and an increase in SSB (spawning stock biomass) for the majority of North Atlantic/British fishstocks.

M. Cardinale et al. (2013) analysed the status of 41 commercially exploited fish stocks from the North East Atlantic, North Sea and Baltic Sea (FAO Area 27) together with the economic performance of the fleets exploiting those stocks. According to the abstract:

The analyses indicate that the exploitation status for many of the stocks has greatly improved during the last 10 years while the economic performance of the fleets over the same period has been highly variable. The main economic indicators (gross value added (GVA) and operating cash flow (OCF)) have gradually improved at a time when the general economic situation, which has a great influence on the markets, costs and purchase power, has worsened. While recognizing that much remains to be done to achieve the objective of the WSSD, the analyses indicate that actions implemented in the last decade under the CFP have led to an improvement in the status of many commercially important fish stocks and their fleets towards levels that are closer to those producing MSY.”

What’s my point?

My point is this…  I am becoming increasingly confident about the provenance of the wild seafood that I eat!

Furthermore my confidence is becoming increasingly verifiable with objective scientific trends and results..

I was sent this unpublished chart the other day (which was put together by Ray Hilborn from the University of Washington) with the comment:

See the attached plot I have made from data base comparing exploitation rates across different parts of the world… Look at Europe and the US.”

Yes – look at Europe and the US!

Map of the World depicting trends in F. The trends take into account the number of stock assessments (thickness of line) and Biomass against the Biomass that provides for a maximum sustainable yield (colour green to red - where green is + and red -). Source: Unpublished Chart (Ray Hilborn)

Map of the World depicting trends in F. The trends take into account the number of stock assessments (thickness of line) and Biomass against the Biomass that provides for a maximum sustainable yield (colour green to red – where green is + and red -).
Source: Unpublished Chart (Ray Hilborn)

Look at my native New Zealand? Good progress… But I notice a slight colour change from pea green to light green. That represents a change in Biomass/BMSY from >2.5 to 1.5.

Although this is still >1 it isn’t by much it might indicate a need to tweak management decisions for some fisheries and implement a slight decrease in F!

Sustainable management optimises value: The penny is dropping – and it is great to see!

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My wife and I were talking about healthy eating yesterday… we talk about it alot. We both eat lots of seafood as we are aware of how good it is for us.

For example:

  • 125g (½ cup) green mussels has 4.6mg of Iron (the is more than 2 grilled lean lamb leg steaks (116g) and about the same as 1 grilled lean beef fillet steak (125g))
  • Prawns, crabs, squid and octopus and some fishes are packed with vitamins, minerals and fish oils (Omega-3 -DHA and EPA – key fatty acids known to prevent or mitigate common chronic diseases)
  • Oysters are high in protein, zinc and Omega-3. Low in cholesterol
  • Mussels are a high in selenium, iron, folic acid, Vitamin A, B vitamins, iodine and zinc
  • Mussels also have the highest level of Omega-3 out of the shellfish and are rich in folic acid and vitamin B12
  • Fish is high in low-fat high quality protein
  • In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, fish is a high in vitamins such as D and B2 (riboflavin). Fish is rich in calcium and phosphorus and a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium

The health benefits of seafood vis-a-vis red meat are astronomical… Consequently the demand for seafood has sky-rocketed… Yet unlike the old adage assures us, ” there is not many more fish in the sea.”  Wild fish stocks are a finite resource, vulnerable to overfishing.

Meeting the increased global consumer demand for seafood now and into the future is a real challenge… One that the Seafood Industry is meeting it would seem…

Trawler Hauling Nets. Source: http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/htmls/fish0813.htm transferred to Commons by User:Faisal Hasan

Trawler Hauling Nets.
Source: http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/htmls/fish0813.htm
transferred to WikiCommons by User:Faisal Hasan

I read this article by Jason Holland in Seafood News (22 April 2013) Lessons in sustainability and optimizing value addresses how seafood producers are sharing ‘know how‘ to meet consumer demand sustainably.

This month, a group of U.K. crab fishermen took part in an exchange visit to Steigen, Norway, to find out how cod fishermen there have built a sustainable fishery and to ascertain if any of the measures introduced would translate to their own sector.

The crabbers, who were all from the southwest county of Devon, were shown how Steigen’s fishermen have been working with scientists to manage their stocks for the long term. As well as learning how the Norwegians go about ensuring sustainability, they saw ways in which the country’s whitefish industry adds value to its catch through meticulously grading according to fish weight, freshness and condition.

This attention to quality means the fishermen and processors can retain value at the beginning of the supply chain.

The expedition was part of a GAP2 project, which is funded by the European Commission’s FP7 Capacities program. In a nutshell, GAP2 aims to bring scientists, fishermen and policymakers closer together and part of that strategy comes through funding exchange trips between research and management organizations.

Last year, a group of Norwegian fishermen traveled to the Devon to explore fisheries management measures in place in the region as they look at ways in which they can develop Norway’s crab fishery. This time around, as well as fishing with their Norwegian hosts, the U.K. fishermen also visited a salmon farm and a fish processing plant.

GAP2 hopes the outcome will be that the crab fishers “produce a methodology” that enables them to evaluate the sustainability of the stock they exploit. In addition, the fishermen want to discover ways in which they can optimize the value of their catch without increasing the size of their landings.

Currently, the United Kingdom’s total crab landings stand at around 28,500 metric tons (MT) with a first sale value of less than GBP 38 million (EUR 44.3 million, USD 57.9 million) and the general consensus in the industry is it should be worth a lot more.

According to Alan Steer, a third-generation crab fisherman:

I think the Norwegian approach, to try and add value to the product, is the best route forward. If we can increase the value of what we sell and cap our effort so we’re not catching any more crab, it makes it much more feasible to move forward with sustainability measures.”

As well as through the handling of the product, Steer believes value can be added by increasing the knowledge and understanding of Devon crab in the U.K. market, and he cited the much greater awareness that Norwegians have about their domestic fisheries products.

“Everyone (in Norway) eats fish, everyone knows how to handle it and they are willing to pay [well] for the cod that they produce. I think that’s something we need to look at — educating the public to let them know what we do and what our product is. Hopefully then we will increase the profitability of the product.” 

Steer is currently working with scientists to better understand crab migration patterns, and while he acknowledged that such co-operations have proved “challenging and frustrating” for many fishermen in the past, he believes they are crucial in making sure catching sectors are on the right track.

“The biggest challenges that I see in our future are proving the sustainability of our fishery and also increasing the value of the product. I want a future for my children and other generations. What we are doing in the shellfish sector is very sustainable and hopefully through working with the scientists we can prove what we have said for many years. This is our challenge — to try and prove our statistics and our figures for the future.”

Professor Paul Hart, a fisheries scientist for 40 years and part of the GAP2 program, believes one of the biggest gains that the Devon fishermen took out of the trip was a broader perspective of the problems relating to fisheries in general. According to Hart:

“In their everyday lives, they are very focused on one species taken from one small area. The Norwegian experience broadened their perspective and will make it easier for them to appreciate the issues and to realize that the problems are global. 

It gives them ideas as to how they might change their own fishery. Although there are big differences between the cod fishery and the crab fishery, there are still a lot of things that go on [in Norway] that they might think about in the future. They can see that through the cod fishery, good management gets results.” 

What’s my point?

I am becoming increasingly confident about the provenance of the wild seafood that I eat!

The news is getting better and better!

Greenpeace: their veracity called into question… once again

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According to an editorial published this morning (19 April 2013) by Natalia Real on FIS the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) is accusing Greenpeace of lying about US retailers’ seafood sustainability practices, and thus challenging reporters to interview Greenpeace before “regurgitating” the information in its press releases.

NFI’s complaints follow an education initiative launched last March, allegedly documenting “ongoing manipulation of facts, self-serving tactics and ulterior financial motives behind Greenpeace’s annual seafood sustainability survey and ranking of US grocers.”

According to a statement released by the NFI:

The unscientific survey and report has become the embodiment of media groundhog day and white noise for those involved in real sustainability efforts.”

They are calling on reporters to ask Greenpeace questions if they receive a press release pertaining to this issue.

    • The first question they want answered regards a Greenpeace report, which according to NFI encourages US consumers to “eat less fish” to “help lessen the pressure on our oceans.” The NFI claims that seafood consumption can prevent deaths and wants reporters to ask Greenpeace whether it knows about this and cares at all about the health of US consumers.
    • Another question is related to the Greenpeace’s unwillingness to reveal the methodology used in its grocers survey.

The NFI also recommends asking the group how it would ensure there is enough affordable pole and line tuna to meet consumer demand and what kind of environmental impact studies the group has done on its recommended sourcing methods and how they would affect the cost of canned tuna.

Besides, the NFI suggests Greenpeace is trying to scare the public by lying about the health of tuna stocks to raise funds and wonders how much of its budget goes to research versus publicity.

Furthermore, it questions the fact that a big amount of money from its Rainbow Warrior III donor money should have been used and wonders if it would not have been better to use those resources on research and sustainability efforts.

The new Rainbow Warrior (Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior III) during sea trials. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/about/ships/the-rainbow-warrior/

The new Rainbow Warrior (Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior III) during sea trials.
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/about/ships/the-rainbow-warrior/

The editorial also poses the questions:

According to Real the NFI finds it difficult to understand whether the group expects that experts in sustainability of the public should take Greenpeace seriously if its activists wear costumes at demonstrations.

The NFI claims that Greenpeace is a “science-averse” organisation that only cares about fundraising.

National Fisheries Institute

NFI  is a non-profit organization dedicated to education about seafood safety, sustainability, and nutrition. From vessels at sea to your favorite seafood restaurant, our diverse member companies bring delicious fish and shellfish to American families. NFI promotes the US Dietary Guidelines that suggest Americans include fish and shellfish in their diets twice per week for longer, healthier lives.

NFI and its members are committed to sustainable management of our oceans and being stewards of our environment by endorsing the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Fisheries. Our investment in our oceans today will provide our children and future generations the health benefits of a plentiful supply of fish and seafood tomorrow.

From responsible aquaculture, to a marketplace supporting free trade, to ensuring the media and consumers have the facts about the health benefits of fish and shellfish, NFI and its members support and promote sound public policy based on ground truth science.

Multiple Users: Can Fishing & Oil Drilling (and even Deep-sea Mining) co-exist?

cropped-yellow-fin-tuna-school3

A story in Atuna (12 April 2013) announces a study into the Great Australian Bight, and the interactions of multiple users and their effects one each other; in particular the effects of drilling on fishstocks.

This couldn’t be anymore timely. Globally this issue of multiple use has emerged as technology has developed and other users such as oil drillers  have begun to prospect marine areas that have been the domain of fisheries…

This is a real issue in New Zealand where there has been prospecting for oil, and and even deep sea phosphate mining occurring within or adjacent to productive fishing grounds.

In Australia Oil reserves coincide with southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) grounds…

Ac cording to Atuna:

The Australian southern bluefin tuna industry has welcomed new research into the Great Australian Bight [where] an AUS$ 20 million whole of ecosystem study has been announced that will look at the economic, environmental and social value of the Bight.

Oil giant BP is funding some of the research. 

Map of Australia, showing the Great Australian Bight. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Australian_Bight

Map of Australia, showing the Great Australian Bight.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Australian_Bight

The tuna industry has had concerns in the past about the company’s exploration for oil and gas in the area; but Brian Jeffriess, from the tuna industry, says this research is welcome.

Unless you understand the ecosystem, understand how each of the users of that ecosystem whether they be new ones like BP or older ones like ourselves, we need to be responsible and need to recognize that we each have mutual obligations to us and the South Australian community.”

So what is Down There and how does it coincide with Bluefin Tuna?

A GeoScience Australia press release (05 April 2010) Geoscience Australia identified three new deep water hydrocarbon provinces announces:

Three significant new oil and gas regions have been identified off Australia’s coast, raising the potential for a wave of offshore exploration that could create booming new resources hubs around the nation. A combination of new technology and the high price of oil has prompted the commonwealth’s Geoscience Australia survey body to push technical limits and explore frontier areas in deep water, turning up startling new resource potential.

Geoscience Australia has identified the Bight basin as a new deepwater hydrocarbon province.
http://www.energy-pedia.com/news/australia/geoscience-australia-identifies-three-new-deep-water-hydrocarbon-provinces

One of the regions, the South Australian end of the Great Australian Bight, has been opened for exploration and has already attracted strong bids ahead of the April 29 deadline. But extracting any oil and gas from this area will mean overcoming significant challenges, including heavy seas and wells deeper than any in operation around the nation.

In addition to the Bight, Geoscience Australia has uncovered strong indications of petroleum in basins near the Lord Howe Rise, 800km east of Brisbane, and on the Wallaby Plateau, 500km off the West Australian coast and next to the existing North West Shelf gas zone.

Which could be good news for the Australian Economy… But what of existing use… Bluefin Tuna is good for the Australian Economy too!!

According to the Australian Government these two resources spatially coincide:

Southern bluefin tuna spawning ground and migration pattern within and out of Australian waters. The 200-mile Australian fishing zone is indicated by the solid line and the horizontal hatching indicates the composite distribution of the Australian surface fishery. The general distribution of Japanese longline fishing is inset. (Modified from Majkowski et al., 1988). http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/t1817e/T1817E17.htm

Southern bluefin tuna spawning ground and migration pattern within and out of Australian waters. The 200-mile Australian fishing zone is indicated by the solid line and the horizontal hatching indicates the composite distribution of the Australian surface fishery. (Modified from Majkowski et al., 1988).
http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/t1817e/T1817E17.htm

According to the Australian Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Poulation and Communities:

[The] Adult Southern Bluefin Tuna in Australian waters, ranges widely from northern Western Australia (WA) to the southern region of the continent, including Tasmania, and to northern New South Wales, appearing in eastern Australian waters mainly during winter (Caton 1991; CCSBT 2009; Honda et al. 2010; NSW DPI FSC n.d.). Juveniles of one to two years of age inhabit inshore waters in WA and South Australia (Honda et al. 2010).

The Southern Bluefin Tuna is highly migratory, occurring globally in waters between 30–50° S, though the species is mainly found in the eastern Indian Ocean and in the south-west Pacific Ocean. There is a single known spawning ground between Java and northern WA (TSSC 2010aw).

Given What is happening in New Zealand with Chatham Rise Phosphate… I am going to keep up with how the Aussies deal with this overlap!