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Report details steps to reduce impacts of fishing

To improve management of marine fisheries and prevent the further decline in health of marine ecosystems, resource managers should pursue a plan of action that includes the designation of a global system of fully protected marine reserves, according to a new report published by WWF, an international NGO. The 80-page report Policy Proposals and Operational Guidance for Ecosystem-Based Management of Marine Capture Fisheries also calls on managers to conduct an ecological audit of major fisheries and develop a "global fishery restructure fund" to help reduce fishing-fleet overcapacity, among other actions.

Released in July, the publication guides managers of large and small fisheries in restructuring their efforts to include such issues as avoiding economic damage to fishing communities and conserving migratory fish stocks. "We have researched and explored the concept and application of ecosystem-based management in detail, and defined achievable objects and targets," said Katherine Short, fisheries officer for WWF Australia and a co-author of the report. The additional major authors were Trevor Ward of the University of Western Australia (Perth) and Diane Tarte and Eddie Hegerl, both of Marine Ecosystem Policy Advisors, a consultancy in Brisbane, Australia. The report is available for free online in PDF format at http://www.panda.org/endangeredseas/pubs.cfm, or e-mail publications [at] wwf.org.au. For more information: Katherine Short, WWF Australia, GPO Box 528, Sydney, NSW 2001, Australia. Tel: +61 2 8202 1240; E-mail: kshort [at] wwf.org.au.


US closes large areas to groundfishing off Pacific Coast

Federal fisheries managers have voted to ban fishing for groundfish in 2003 on most of the continental shelf along the Pacific coast of the US. Designed to protect overfished groundfish species from incidental harvest, the approved limitations expand on emergency closures imposed in June 2002. The approved measures are considered to be the strictest regulation of US Pacific coast fishing in history.

The measures introduce a new depth-based management regime intended to keep fishing vessels from operating in waters where overfished species are commonly found: fishermen will have to abide by a series of minimum and maximum allowed depths. Deepwater fisheries on the continental slope and nearshore fisheries remain open, but under more restrictive management. Even with the new restrictions, say fisheries managers, it is unlikely that all nine overfished groundfish stocks will rebound soon due to slow species growth rates and other factors, so depth-based restrictions will probably continue for some time.

For more information: Pacific Fishery Management Council, 7700 NE Ambassador Place, Suite 200, Portland, OR 97220, USA. Tel: +1 503 820 2280; Web: www.pcouncil.org.


Draft report available on planning coral MPAs for climate change

Climate change represents a major long-term threat to marine protected areas, but is all too rarely considered during the planning of MPAs. A new draft report addresses this gap for coral reef MPAs, which are susceptible to coral bleaching related to higher sea-surface temperatures. Now open for public comment, the draft aims to develop a series of principles to help planners and managers design coral MPAs to be resilient in the face of this threat. The draft is available online in PDF format at http://wcpa.iucn.org/biome/marine/docs/MPA_change.pdf.

Authored by Rod Salm of The Nature Conservancy (an international NGO), the draft builds on concepts first presented at the International Coral Reef Symposium in 2000 (MPA News 3:1). The document suggests that survival prospects of coral reef communities facing large-scale climate events - such as their resistance and resilience to bleaching - should be primary considerations in the design and selection of MPAs. The draft is one product of a collaboration among The Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund (an NGO), and the IUCN to mitigate the impact of future large-scale bleaching events.

For more information: Rod Salm, Asia-Pacific Coastal Marine Program, The Nature Conservancy, 923 Nu'uanu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96817, USA. Tel: +1 808 587 6284; Email: rsalm [at] tnc.org

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