Cepesca chief executive Javier Garat has underscored the need for Regional Fisheries Management Organisations to be strengthened.
Speaking at the 14th round of informal consultations of States party to the New York Agreement for the Conservation and Management of Straddling and Highly Migratory Species, he commented that these bodies are the primary mechanism for managing straddling and highly migratory fish stocks, as well as associated species.
He stressed that RFMO’s should be supported and not undermined by organisations with an imperfect understanding of fisheries management, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) or the BBNJ process (Biological diversity of areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ).
‘The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea resembles a Constitution that sets out the principles of ocean governance and, just as States are responsible for regulating and controlling fishing activity in the waters within their Exclusive Economic Zones, RFMOs are responsible for establishing the rules on the high seas, but it is their contracting parties, the coastal and flag States, that have the responsibility for implementing measures that guarantee the sustainable use of the resources that are caught in their regulatory zones,’ he said.
The fisheries sector has recognised the crucial work carried out by the RFMOs in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDS) 2, 8, 10, 12, 13 and 14, linked to food security (zero hunger), decent work and economic growth, reduction of inequality, responsible consumption and production, climate action and the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and seas, as well as their resources.
During his speech, Javier Garat stated that there is a need for greater political will on the part of States to collaborate effectively in managing shared resources and to guarantee the effectiveness of the measures established through appropriate control, monitoring and surveillance mechanisms.
He asks that RFMOs be better funded and that their capacity and resources for scientific research be strengthened by contracting and co-operating States, in order to complement independent fisheries data with data directly from the fisheries they manage, a formula that has proven to be key to the development of effective management.
‘Instead of looking for new organisations to deal with fisheries management, which are also formed by the contracting parties themselves, we need to strengthen RFOs, create incentives for the States that comply with their obligations and penalise those that do not,’ Javier Garat said.