This menu organises news, documents, projects, profiles and links into key topics, and the menu along the top divides the contents of the site by type.
African Union / New Partnership for Africa's Development
EU Action Plan
EU Common Fisheries Policy
FAO / UN High Seas Processes
High Seas Task Force
Southern African Development Community (SADC)
US Lacey Act
18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Namibia: world fish stocks dangerously depleted, Nam in danger area
The status of certain migratory and high-seas fish species is cause for serious concern, a new report by a United Nations agency warns, with over-exploitation and depletion as the largest threats.
About 52 per cent of fish stocks are fully exploited, meaning they are at or near their maximum sustainable production levels.
In a report released on Monday, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said 25 per cent of all the marine fish stocks it had monitored is threatened by over-exploitation.
Of this number, only one per cent is recovering from depletion.
According to the FAOs State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) report, this 25 per cent has at least remained relatively stable over the past 15 years.
However, the condition of stocks of certain species that are fished in high seas outside of national jurisdictions is cause for serious concern - particularly some so-called "straddling stocks", which regularly traverse national maritime boundaries and high-seas areas, as well as highly migratory sharks.
Over half of stocks of migratory sharks and 66 per cent of high-seas and straddling fish stocks rank as either overexploited or depleted, the report shows, including stocks of hake, Atlantic cod and halibut, orange roughy, basking shark and bluefin tuna.
"While these stocks represent only a small fraction of the worlds fishery resources, they are key indicators of the state of a massive piece of the ocean ecosystem," said FAO Assistant Director General for Fisheries Ichiro Nomura.
The report noted that the monitoring of fish captures in high-seas areas is inadequate, with catch statistics being reported only for very large areas, making accurately assessing the state of specific stocks difficult and handicapping efforts to manage them more responsibly.
Looking at all marine species, the percentage of stocks exploited at or beyond their maximum sustainable levels varies greatly by area, the report shows.
Among the most troubling areas are the Southeast Atlantic along the coast of South Africa, Namibia and West Africa, the Southeast Pacific, the Northeast Atlantic and high-seas tuna fishing grounds in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
In these areas the proportion of stocks falling into the overexploited, depleted or recovering category runs from 46 to 66 per cent of the total.
"These trends confirm that the capture potential of the worlds oceans has most likely reached its ceiling, and underscore the need for more cautious and effective fisheries management to rebuild depleted stocks and prevent the decline of those being exploited at or close to their maximum potential," Nomura said.
Mondays report also argues that reforms are needed in order to strengthen the worlds regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) and multilateral institutions established by governments in order to promote regional co-operation on fisheries management.
These organisations - 39 already exist and new ones are in the works - represent the only realistic means of governing the exploitation of fish stocks that occur either as shared or straddling stocks between zones of national jurisdiction, between these zones and the high seas, or exclusively on the high seas, SOFIA says.
Yet despite efforts to improve their management capacity in recent years, "a lack of political commitment by the members of some RFMOs and unyielding positions that mitigate against sound regional fisheries management has thwarted, if not stalled, efforts by some RFMOs to meet and address conservation and management challenges", it adds.
"Strengthening RFMOs in order to conserve and manage fish stocks more effectively remains the major challenge facing international fisheries governance," the report concludes.
The issue of RFMO reform will be the subject of discussions this week among high-level fisheries authorities from a large group of countries participating in the 27th meeting of FAOs Committee on Fisheries (COFI) which ends on Friday.
The committee is looking at a number of other issues as well, including the ecosystem approach to fisheries and aquaculture, deep-sea fisheries, marine protected areas, risks posed by lost or abandoned fishing gear, and the fight against illegal fishing.
Fish captures in the wild have reached a record high of 95 million tonnes a year, with 85,8 million tonnes coming from marine fisheries and 9,2 million tonnes from inland fisheries.
Overall, global fisheries production (marine and inland capture fisheries plus fish farming) totals 141,6 million tonnes a year.
Around 105,6 million tonnes of this (75 per cent) is used for direct human consumption; the rest is used for non-food products, in particular the manufacture of fishmeal and oil.
Aquaculture remains the worlds fastest growing food production sector, with 47,8 million tonnes of production each year.
And with wild capture fisheries levelled off, fish farming is providing ever-greater amounts of fish for food.
While in 1980 just nine per cent of the fish consumed by human beings came from aquaculture, today 43 per cent does.
Fish exports are among the top10 foreign exchange earners in eight countries - Chile, Fiji, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nicaragua, Senegal and Thailand.
click to view source website
Impacts/Environment, biodiversity and fish stocks
Issues/Governance / management
Political processes/FAO / UN High Seas Processes