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Subject: Re: Deep Threats for High Seas
From: "Trevor J. Kenchington" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Scientific forum on fish and fisheries <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 9 Aug 2006 20:23:03 -0300
Content-Type:text/plain
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Tom,

I should probably have the sense to let someone else carry the ball  
on this one but, since you appended your posting to one of mine:

Of course we should apply the precautionary approach in fisheries  
management (but NOT usually the precautionary principle, which is  
intended for actions causing irreversible change -- as new trawl  
fisheries on seamounts might be but continued trawling on long-fished  
continental shelves is not).

However, having once been stuck doing a contract that required me to  
work in both international and national fisheries management  
simultaneously, I have become painfully aware of an important  
distinction: The international arena (at the U.N. level, some  
regional management agencies are different) is mostly a talking shop,  
good at generating pious statements about overall goals. The national  
arena has to deal with the difficult process of implementing plans  
that actually bear on what people do. Too often, national-level  
managers ease their burdens by dodging the obviously-desirable long- 
term goals but their international colleagues too often set  
unrealistic standards that just don't work when you get down to the  
level of trying to put them into effect.

So ... the Code of Conduct is a great document but one intended as a  
guide, not a rulebook. The Straddling Stocks Agreement is important  
too but applies to straddling stocks and is, at most, only another  
guide to good practice in national fisheries management. In any case,  
both are very general and the "precautionary approach" wording could  
be fulfilled by nothing more than limiting catch or effort -- stuff  
that North American or European fishery managers take as the starting  
point but for much of the world is a goal to be worked towards one day.

The Rio declaration could be dismissed as just another set of hopeful  
nonsense which the signatories never intended to implement but, in so  
far as it is more, it calls for not postponing "cost-effective  
measures". Thus expressed, I suspect that most fisheries people could  
go along. What we would argue over (endlessly) is what restrictions  
should be deemed cost-effective in light of our current levels of  
uncertainty. Bans on expanding mobile-gear fishing into new areas  
might make the cut while bans on trawling on established grounds  
might not.


Trevor Kenchington



On 9-Aug-06, at 1:46 PM, Tom Pickerell wrote:

>> <> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><>
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>> <> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><> ><>
>
> Dear All
>
> My tuppence-worth...
>
> With such a difficult to assess ecosystem, shouldn't we be adopting  
> the precautionary approach to any fisheries?
>
> The Precautionary Principle has been endorsed internationally on  
> many occasions. At the Earth Summit meeting at Rio in 1992, World  
> leaders agreed Agenda 21, which advocated the widespread  
> application of the Precautionary Principle in the following terms:
>
> 'In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach  
> shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities.  
> Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of  
> full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for  
> postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental  
> degradation.' (Principle 15)
>
> In Fisheries Management this precautionary approach has been  
> defined in two international instruments:
>
> the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF); and
> the Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the  
> United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982  
> relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish  
> Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (UNIA).
>
> Both of these share common wording and ideas. The wording used in  
> the CCRF is:
>
> 'States should apply the precautionary approach widely to  
> conservation, management and exploitation of living aquatic  
> resources in order to protect them and preserve the aquatic  
> environment. The absence of adequate scientific information should  
> not be used as a reason for postponing or failing to take  
> conservation and management measures.'
>
> Regards
> Tom Pickerell

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