Javier Garat and Iván López together with other delegates
Spanish delegation proposes a global vision for the RFBs before the United Nations
Monday, August 08, 2022, 01:40 (GMT + 9)
The Spaniards Javier Garat and Iván López represent the world fishing sector at a conference at the United Nations headquarters on bottom fishing
• Believes that only a dialogue that overcomes the current polarized scenario and science will guarantee the future of the oceans
The fishing sector celebrates the advances in the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems following the criteria applied by the Regional Fisheries Organizations (ORP) for their detection and delimitation during the last two decades. This was stated by Javier Garat, general secretary of CEPESCA and president of ICFA1, and Iván López, member of ICFA and president of EBFA2, during a United Nations conference to implement several resolutions on sustainable fishing and in which the impact of bottom fishing in vulnerable marine ecosystems (VME) and the long-term sustainability of deep-sea fish stocks.
Both fishing representatives have highlighted the model followed by the ORP to determine these spaces. These organizations analyze, in the first place, the "fishing footprint" to limit fishing only in those areas. Second, they map the seabed to determine the location of VMEs and prohibit bottom gear on them. In the rest of the regulation area, only exploratory fishing is allowed, after a scientific evaluation that guarantees that there is no VME. During the conference, the example of NAFO3 was shown, which only allows fishing with bottom gear in 4.4% of the 2.7 million km2 that comprise its area of action.
Break the polarization
For the Spanish delegation, guaranteeing the sustainable future of the oceans necessarily involves eliminating the polarization that currently exists between the different actors that act in this environment. Thus, during his participation in the event, Iván López claimed the need to break the stereotypes and “caricatures” that NGOs express about the sector, relying on numerous occasions on images of “dubious” origin and on arguments not adjusted to the reality. According to López, this position only leads to goals that are also unrealistic, such as, in the case of trawling, the disappearance of this art, but without considering any other aspect, such as its impact on the coastal communities that depend on fishing and on the supply of nutritious, healthy and sustainable proteins.
According to the sector, it is necessary to build a joint scenario capable of analyzing from “serious and responsible” criteria the best way to approach balanced and efficient initiatives to preserve nature and food production. Otherwise, the fishermen point out, the companies will hesitate to undertake investments in technology and research in the medium term. In this regard, and in the case of trawling, the speakers recalled that the most significant improvements and those with the greatest impact on ecosystems have come from the sector, such as trawling doors that do not touch the bottom, reduction in the weight of nets or advances in winch technology.
Global vision and mapping the oceans
In the opinion of the sector, it is necessary to develop a complete cartography of the oceans, especially in the high seas, for which centralized coordination is needed. According to the fishermen, developments in both cartographic and navigation technology would allow for high-precision closures and greater control of the activity that, if properly developed, would allow for a more sensible closure scheme, much more similar to that on land, allowing for better coexistence between protection and production.
The closure of an area to fishing, in the opinion of the sector, should require prior knowledge of where the fishing effort would be diverted and its consequent impact or pressure on other fishing grounds or on imports. Similarly, if the alternative to protein from the sea is on land, it is also necessary to measure the impact, for example, of the development of new farming areas to produce more. In short, depending on the sector, a global vision is necessary.
According to the fishermen, the promotion of Marine Protected Areas (AMPs) must be rational and in accordance with international environmental protection treaties and objectives, but also with the sustained production of healthy and low-impact marine proteins. In this debate, López points out, it is essential to include the real scope of the fishing footprint, much lower than that of the production of other types of protein on land. Only in this way, he points out, can decisions be made with a real net reduction in impacts on the environment and not just act in response to campaigns.
In the case of international waters, he considers it essential that there be a compliance mechanism to prevent the activity of illegal actors or those who do not recognize protected areas. In this sense, the fishermen advocate for the recognition of the RFOs as the best promoters of the international governance of fisheries.