Andrés Cruz-CDF

CDF participates in the 12th annual meeting of the SPRFMO Commission in Manta

Sarah Ryan Enright
28 Feb 24 /

A scientific delegation from the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands participated in the 12th annual meeting of the Commission of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (SPRFMO), which took place in Manta, Ecuador, between 29 January – 2 February 2024.

Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) are the mechanism through which the international community cooperates to conserve and manage high seas fishery resources, established pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. They have a management mandate and the power to establish legally binding conservation measures regarding fisheries. Specific measures include the use of area-based management tools. For example, RFMOs can designate closures of certain fisheries to protect or restore the stocks they manage or to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) located on the seabed.

SPRFMO was established in 2012 and manages non-highly migratory fishery resources and associated marine ecosystems in the high seas of the South Pacific, including those around Ecuador, which has been a member since 2015. The types of conservation and management measures (CMMS) that SPRFMO can adopt include those aimed at preventing overfishing, maintaining or restoring fish populations and protection of the wider marine environment.

In 2023, CDF was granted non-governmental organization (NGO) observer status to participate in the deliberations of the SPRFMO Commission and its subsidiary bodies, such as the Scientific Committee and the Compliance and Technical Committee. CDF has several ongoing initiatives within the framework of ocean governance, sustainable fisheries, shark conservation and deep ocean exploration, which, among other activities, study interactions between national and international waters from an economic, human and ecosystem perspective. SPRFMO activities, particularly in the area of conservation and management, are relevant to this work. CDF is committed to developing relationships and engaging with relevant international organizations operating in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) region, such as SPRFMO, and contributing expertise where appropriate.

Items on the agenda for discussion at the Commission’s 12th meeting included issues such as determinations of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and associated vessel lists, managing levels of squid fishing effort, monitoring of transshipments in the SPRFMO area, the impact of bottom fishing, conservation and management measures, compliance and monitoring, and the protection of deep-sea biodiversity.

CDF team at the 12th annual SPRFMO Commission meeting

A proposal of relevance for the ETP region in terms of mechanisms for potential future high seas protected areas was that submitted by Chile to protect the Salas y Gómez and Nazca Ridges ecosystem in the south eastern pacific through a fishing closure. The Salas y Gómez and Nazca Ridges are two underwater mountain chains stretching across 2,900 kilometres which host unique biodiversity and have some of the highest levels of marine endemism in the world, resulting in recognition as an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area (EBSA) by parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. As a next step, the SPRFMO Commission tasked the Scientific Committee with reviewing all scientific information about the area and recommending possible measures to the Commission.

Sarah Ryan Enright

Ocean Governance Researcher

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Andres Cruz

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