Managing biodiversity in large-scale fisheries

In theory, fish populations can be harvested sustainably in large-scale fisheries with proper management. Main obstacle to sustainable harvesting in large-scale fisheries is the lack of control over access to fisheries and fishing effort. The failure of politicians to address these factors has greatly limited management effectiveness. Fisheries managers and the fishing in-dustry itself are only reluctantly coming to accept that technical measures alone will rarely be sufficient to maintain or rebuild fisheries stocks. In some cases, they are also questioning the effectiveness of catch quotas where rigorous monitoring and enforcement are not in place.

Concern over the sustainable use of aquatic resources is not new, but has intensified since the turn of this century. Recently, FAO's Committee of Fisheries (COFI) developed the concept of "responsible fishing" to encompass a broad range of principles for the sustainable management of marine resources, including biodiversity. It is based on a management regime with the following characteristics:

Fisheries on the high-seas - or parts of the oceans not covered by national EEZs - are not managed or controlled. This is particularly a problem for straddling stocks and highly migra-tory species that are distributed, at least partially, outside national EEZs and thus accessible for uncontrolled exploitation.