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By By Dr M. Sommer
The European Union should demand that Spain act responsibly. Pirate fishing is widespread in the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica. After the arrest (06.06.2001) by France of the pirate fishing vessel "Castor", of Spanish capital, fishing for Deep Sea Cod or toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides). This same boat had already been arrested three times illegally fishing by the Australian authorities.
ILLEGAL DEPTH COD FISHING EXCEEDS ALMOST TEN TIMES THE AUTHORIZED FISHING (18,000 tons is the established annual fishing quota, it is being exceeded by 130,000 tons).
Highly prized in the US, Japanese and European markets, the fish stocks have been brought to the brink of collapse in the six years that pirate longliners have been fishing for them. In just a few years, stocks of this species on the Prince Edward and Marion Islands were devastated, reaching near commercial extinction.
An estimated 330,000 seabirds, including several endangered species of albatrosses, have increased the accidental catches of these pirate ships.
Spain should be tough on the Spanish who continue to plunder the marine life of Antarctica. Spanish citizens have been implicated in most of the arrests of boats operating illegally in recent years.
In Mexico, the sector most affected by pirate fishing is the tuna industry. Since January 1998, Dr. James Joseph, director of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (CIAT), warned about the dangerous growth of the tuna fleet in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) that had reached the level of 127 thousand tons.
Despite these warnings, the Spanish fishing industry, supported by unprecedented subsidies from the European Union, entered the region with 4 Guatemalan-flagged vessels; in Panama it flagged the largest tuna boat in the world and two other boats were flagged by El Salvador. These vessels are not only increasing the catch of tuna, but by using FADs, they are impacting the juvenile population of this resource and millions of individuals of various non-target species.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations has declared that illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing is one of the most severe problems currently affecting the world's fisheries.
The increase in the levels of fishing and oil exploitation is damaging the fragile biodiversity of the high seas. Being open to unregulated access, the high seas have become increasingly susceptible to overexploitation. Increasing the capacity and reach of fishing fleets and technological advances that allow oil drilling to be carried out to depths of at least 2,000 meters put sensitive high seas marine life at great risk.
The IUCN World Conservation Congress in Aman in October 2000 urged governments, international organizations and NGOs to review existing legal agreements and identify suitable high seas areas for joint management and establish agreements to manage them. and keep them. Part of the solution, the report says, could be the designation of different types of High Seas Protected Areas (HSMPAs) to address the uncertain exploitation of their living resources. Some elements of international agreements already require states to cooperate in the management of high seas resources. What governments and international conservation organizations must do is to go ahead and take urgent measures to overcome the political, legal and institutional obstacles towards the practical implementation of activities to protect the high seas.
There are times when the hardest decision is to admit the obvious. It is obvious that throughout the world national economies are based on goods and services derived from ecosystems, as well as that human life depends on the capacity of these ecosystems to continue to provide their multiple benefits. Yet in rich and poor countries alike, development priorities have long focused on what we can extract from ecosystems, without taking too much account of the impact of our actions. If we decide to continue with current patterns of use, we will almost certainly face a decline in the ability of ecosystems to produce their wide spectrum of benefits, from clean water to a stable climate, from fuelwood to food crops, from timber to habitats for wild life.
However, we have another option.
This requires that we reorient the way we view ecosystems, so that we consider their sustainability as essential to ours.
Adopting this "ecosystem approach" implies that we evaluate our decisions about the use of fisheries and resources in terms of how this affects the ability of ecosystems to sustain life, but not only human well-being but also health and productive potential of plants, animals and natural systems. Maintaining this capacity becomes our "master key" for national and human development, our hope to end poverty, our safeguard for biodiversity, and our passport to a sustainable future.
It is obviously difficult to know what will be sustainable in the physical or political environment of the future. This is why the ecosystem approach emphasizes the need for good scientific information and strong policies and institutions.
From a scientific point of view, a marine ecosystem approach should:
# Recognize the "SYSTEM" in ecosystems, respecting their natural borders and managing it in a holistic and non-sectoral way.
# Regularly assess the conditions of the ecosystem and study the processes that underlie its ability to sustain life in order to understand the consequences of our choices.
From a policy perspective, an ecosystem approach should:
# Demonstrate that much can be done to improve the management of marine ecosystems through the formulation of smarter policies and the development of more efficient institutions to implement them.
# Gather the information that allows us to carefully weigh the trade-offs between the various ecosystem goods and services, and between environmental, political, social and economic goals.
# Promote the participation of the public, and particularly of local communities, as these are usually the ones with the greatest interest in protecting the environment.
The goal of this approach is to optimize the variety of goods and services that marine ecosystems produce, while preserving their ability to generate them in the future.
We should be fully aware that today we lack both the scientific knowledge and the political will that are needed to meet the challenge. If sound decisions are to be made regarding the management of marine ecosystems in the 21st century, it is essential that drastic changes occur in the way we use the knowledge and experience that we have, as well as the type of information that you will have. weight in the decisions made about the management of marine resources.
In order to meet identified information needs and to drive local and regional assessments, a truly comprehensive and integrated assessment of the world's marine ecosystems is required that goes well beyond our pilot analysis.
At the dawn of the new century, we have the ability to change the life systems of this planet, for better or for worse. If we want the former, we must recognize that the well-being of people and that of ecosystems are interwoven and that this fabric is increasingly deteriorated. It needs to be repaired, especially now that we have the necessary tools on hand.
THE CURRENT RHYTHM OF TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES MAKES THAT AT THE TIME OF GETTING TO KNOW THE VALUE OF A RESOURCE; THIS MAY ALREADY BE EXTINGUISHED.
We must plan today for the preservation and sustainable and equitable use of marine resources in areas that fall outside of national jurisdiction.
* Dr.M.Sommer ÖKOTECCUM Germany
e-mail: [email protected]