More countries say they are fishing responsibly, altering their laws and practices to adhere to an international code of conduct on fishing, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced in a report issued today.
FAO said 52 of its Member States have reported changing their fisheries management plans to include provisions such as banning destructive practices, promoting the use of selective fishing gear and allowing depleted fish stocks to recover.
These provisions are part of the 1995 Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, endorsed by 170 countries, which sets non-binding standards for governments to protect marine flora and fauna and to conserve ocean ecosystems.
At least 50 countries said they have taken steps to ensure that when their ships operate in the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of other countries, they are properly authorized. They are also more closely monitoring the activities of ships in their own EEZs.
Ichiro Nomura, FAO Assistant Director-General and head of its Fisheries Department, said the changes reflect a growing worldwide recognition that taking care of the environment actually benefits the long-term health of the fishing industry.
“Much remains to be done in order to ensure that fisheries worldwide are being conducted in a responsible and sustainable manner, but the indications are that countries and private industry are both starting to respond to over-exploitation and environmental concerns,” he said.
Mr. Nomura said there is room for improvement on several fronts, particularly the setting of approved fishing catches based on the assessment of fish stocks.
He also said countries remain slow to adopt the provisions of four supplemental action plans to the code – covering excess fishing capacity, illegal fishing, shark fisheries management and the accidental capture of seabirds.
Only six countries have formal plans about shark fishing, for example, although another 10 nations say they are close to finalizing their plans.