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Marine fisheries

The Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) is becoming the main reference framework for managing fisheries and implementing the principles of sustainable development. The principles that underpin EAF clearly emerged in the 1995 Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF), inherited from the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), its Agenda 21 and the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Most of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department work is dedicated to promoting and monitoring responsible fisheries development and management, consistent with the CCRF. The FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries directly address the issue of EAF implementation by providing guidance on how to translate the economic, social and ecological policy goals and aspirations of sustainable development of EAF into operational objectives, indicators and performance measures. Other publications that deal with the broader aspects of EAF or address and expand on specific aspects of its implementation are also prepared.

Broad encompassing and focussed EAF projects

Several projects and other FAO activities address EAF through concerted efforts aimed at simultaneously achieving progress in several if not most of the relevant aspects of EAF in selected locations or ecosystems.

Among other, projects are interesting location in the Benguela Current area, the Lesser Antilles, the African region, the Mediterranean and also dealing with sea turtles and fisheries interactions; reduction of shrimp bycatch; deep sea fishing; marine protected areas; reduction of incidental catch of seabirds; conservation and management of sharks; assessment and mapping of fishery resources; species identification; biodiversity index estimation; safety at sea; marking of fishing vessels; participatory approaches, socio-economic and institutional aspects of EAF.

Inland fisheries

Considering that inland fisheries are strongly impacted by other users of water and land resources, its management through an ecosystem approach is the best way to take into account both internal and external factors. Ecosystem approach to inland fisheries main purpose is to engage all stakeholders and to plan, develop and manage fisheries in a manner that addresses the multiple needs and desires of societies, without jeopardizing the options for future generations to benefit from the full range of goods and services provided by freshwater/inland water ecosystems.

Inland fisheries management

The Department, in collaboration with partners, conducts international symposia, studies and analyses on management of inland fisheries. Key activities have included the Second Large River Symposium and production of guidelines on fishery management, floodplain fisheries and improving information.

Responsible use of alien species

Alien species, are a proven method of increasing production and value from aquatic ecosystems. However, they are also recognized as one of the most significant threats to aquatic biodiversity. Policy makers must balance these benefits and risks to decide when an introduction may be appropriate. Toward this end FAO has developed a framework for the responsible use and control of alien species in fisheries and aquaculture. The framework consists of:

  • The CCRF, an overarching agreed international instrument;
  • International guidelines and codes of practice such as the ICES Code of Practice on the Introductions and Transfers of Marine Organisms, and Asia Regional Technical Guidelines on fish health;
  • An information source, the Database on Introductions of Aquatic Species;
  • A means to deal with uncertainty, a precautionary approach;

The Department has produced a CD-ROM, Introduced Species in Fisheries and Aquaculture: information for responsible use and control, available through the service or FAO distribution and sales.

Rehabilitation and enhancement of inland waters

The Department, often in collaboration with partners, has produced significant publications on habitat rehabilitation for fisheries including restoration of fish passage at weirs and dams, on the basis of the regulations set out in the CCRF and the related Technical Guidelines No.6. The Department is also investigating the use of telemetry as a means to study the biology and the behaviour of fish to generate better data for an increase of benefits for fisheries and aquaculture.

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