Regional Fisheries Management in focus

Published on June 1, 2012

At a presentation given to the Swedish Green Party congress, Isabella Lövin (Greens/EFA, Sweden) discussed international issues such as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs).

Lövin published a report on combatting IUU fishing globally for the Fisheries Committee in the European Parliament last year. She has called for loopholes such as dubious reflagging to be closed and for product traceability to be improved.

The Swedish politician also called on the EU, which participates in many RFMOs, to support an obligatory independent review of RFMOs under a UN mandate. Moreover, she argued that an international framework of criteria for functioning RFMOs should be established. This would aid full transparency in their decision-making processes to be developed. When these developments are met, the EU should then support an expanded mandate for these regional management organisations.

The FAO fisheries committee, which published its “code of conduct for responsible fisheries”, is seen by Lövin as providing a template for fisheries management. She argued that “overfishing would end in a year” if these policies were applied and followed.

As ice coverage around the Artic melts, and the EU fleet expands into waters further afield, there is a need for RFMOs to be robust institutions which enable fishing to take place within the limits of the ecosystem. There are numerous examples of fish stocks being driven down and top predators being fished out. In new waters, international cooperation will be essential for ensuring that stocks are managed in a sustainable manner.

Today, the Commission have also organised a conference on RFMOs. Commissioner Damanaki stressed the need for improving science and research. Moreover, compliance with regulations to prevent IUU fishing was identified as a point of weakness for RFMOs presently. She also echoed Lövin’s calls for these regional bodies to be more transparent and accountable for the decisions they take.