|Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, Minister|
|for Food & Agriculture.|
Staggering statistics from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reveal that over 20 million tonnes of fish worldwide and other animals are discarded (bycatch) annually.
In some countries, bycatch has an economic value and is consumed, making it hard to estimate the scale of the wastage. This bycatch (discards) also include endangered species, juvenile fish, turtles, seabirds and dolphins.
Bycatch include discards, that is fish that are caught accidently and then thrown back into the sea, either dead or dying. Unmanaged bycatch and discards threaten the long term sustainability of many fisheries and adversely affect the livelihoods of millions of fishers and fish workers.
To address the issues of bycatch globally, maiden global guidelines for bycatch management and reduction of fishing discards were released yesterday in Rome?, Italy?? by FAO.
The guidelines are being forwarded to the Committee on Fisheries for endorsement, which will meet in Rome? at the end of the month. The guidelines were agreed by fisheries experts from 35 countries who met at FAO last month.
Fishing Technology Expert at FAO, Frank Chopin explained that “These are the first guidelines to cover all species encountering fishing gear.” “The guidelines extend the principles of fishery management to all species and all areas of concern.
Although the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries refers to bycatch and discards, these guidelines elaborate more clearly how countries should address bycatch and discard problems in practice”.
He noted that the bycatch guidelines had been requested by the countries themselves and are another important step towards applying an ecosystem approach to fisheries management.
The guidelines cover bycatch management planning, improvement of fishing gear, fisheries closures, economic incentives to facilitate uptake of measures, monitoring, research and development, building the capacity of states to follow the guidelines and other relevant issues.
Chopin indicated that care had been taken so that the guidelines would not place an undue burden on poor artisanal fishers and on developing states. “The guidelines emphasize doing an assessment of the situation first to see if there is a problem. The social, economic and biological impacts of applying these guidelines need to be studied in each case,” he added.
Source: Ghanaian Chronicle