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The Code being recognized by FAO members as the most complete and operational reference for management, any EAF guidelines produced under the aegis of FAO will need to be in line with its provisions. It is therefore important to examine the degree to which the Code already provides an appropriate basis for the development of EAF as an effective, scientifically sound and practical approach. The following section will show that the Code contains a significant number of ecosystem-related provisions (principles, axioms, conceptual objectives, constraints and conditions) which, when considered together, provide a good basis for EAF. These provisions could be grouped in various other ways than the one below. In particular, a finer grouping could be used to highlight the Code's relevance to more specific issues. This section should be sufficient, however, when cross-referred to the others (particularly Sections 2 and 3.1), to illustrate the fact that the Code, which does not mention EAF, does deal with practically all of its aspects.

6.1 Respect for the Ecosystem

The Code is generally elaborated "with due respect" for the ecosystem (Introduction). Recognizing the transboundary nature of the ecosystem (6.4), the Code provides that states should "conserve", "protect" and "safeguard" it (6.1; 6.6; 7.2.2d; 12.10), including from the impact of aquaculture (9.2), to keep its "integrity" (9.12). It promotes research (2.1), calling for an assessment of the impact of fishing, pollution, other habitat alterations and climate change (12.5). The Code provides for habitat protection (6.8; 7.2.2d) and "safeguard" (12.10) of critical habitats, requesting the rehabilitation of degraded ones (6.5; 7.6.10) and promoting research on the impact of their alteration on the ecosystem (12.5), as well as a prior assessment of the potential impact of new fisheries or introduction of new technologies (8.4.7; 12.11).

6.2 Account of the Environment

The Code states, in its Introduction, that it "takes account of" the environment. Its provisions promote its protection (2g; 6.5; 8.7). It promotes research on environmental factors (2j) and requires that such factors be taken into account in the "best scientific information available" (6.4), even when the scientific information available is inadequate (6.5). It provides that fishing be conducted "with due regard" for the environment (8.4.1), which should be monitored for impacts (10.2.4). It recognizes, in line with the 1982 Convention, the qualifying role of environmental factors on the Maximum Sustainable Yield (7.2.1).

6.3 Biodiversity and Endangered Species

The Code reflects "due respect" for biodiversity (Introduction). It promotes its maintenance (6.1), protection (7.2.2d), safeguarding (12.10) and conservation (9.2.1), mentioning genetic diversity (9.2.1; 9.1.2), the need to minimize fisheries impact on biodiversity (9.2.1) and to develop research about fishing gear impact. The Code also recognizes the existence of endangered species that need to be protected (7.2.2), and the need for measures to minimize fisheries impacts on them (7.6.9).

6.4 Species Interdependence

The Code distinguishes between exploited and non-exploited species belonging to the same ecosystem, the target species on the one hand and "non-target" species or "dependent or associated" species (in accordance with the 1982 Convention) on the other. Regarding the latter, the Code promotes the study of their behaviour (12.10), their conservation (6.2; 6.5) even in the absence of adequate scientific information (6.5, precautionary approach), the taking into account of accidental fishing mortality (7.2.5), the assessment (7.2.3) and the reduction/minimization of catches (7.2.2; 7.6.9; 6.6) or fisheries impacts (6.6; 7.2.2). The Code provides for conservation of populations structure (6.1), their rehabilitation in case of damage (6.3) and the analysis of the impacts of environmental factors on them (12). It also provides for the scientific study of the relations between populations (7.3.3).

6.5 General Impact from Fisheries

The Code provides that the impact of fisheries activities (including aquaculture and artificial reefs) should be minimized (6.7; 6.19; 8.9d; 9.1.5) and recommends the development of research on such impacts (8.11) for their assessment (9.15) and monitoring (9.15). It aims at "ecologically sustainable" activities (9.1.3). It promotes a reduction of pollution and use of chemicals (9.4), environmentally sound processing, transport or storage (11.1.7), and calls for regulation of environmental impacts of post-harvest practices (11.1.2). The Code provides also for the prior impact assessment and monitoring of gear impact (12.11), the prohibition of destructive practices (8.4.2) and the development of environmentally safe gear. The Code also considers, albeit very briefly, the problem of sound or optimal use of energy (8.6; 11.8c).

6.6 Selectivity, Ghost Fishing, Bycatch, Discards and Waste

Selectivity, or lack of it, is central to many biological issues affecting fisheries. Bycatch or incidental capture is responsible for endangering and contributing to extinction of a number of non-target species (such as dolphins or turtles) caught in driftnets or longline fisheries (Goñi, 1998). In addition, the discarding of unwanted catch, which is particularly important in unselective fisheries, is being considered by society not only as wasteful but as unethical. The Code dedicates a whole section to the issue (8.5). It promotes the use of more selective gear (7.6.9; 8.4.5) and calls for more international collaboration in better gear development (8.5.1; 8.5.4), as well as for the agreement on gear research standards. The Code calls for minimizing discards (12.10) and waste (6.6; 7.2.2; 7.6.9) including through reduction of dumping and loss of gear (7.2.2).

6.7 Impact from Other Activities

The Code also addresses itself to other (non-fishery) users (1.2; 10.1.5) and acknowledges the impact of other human activities on fisheries. It recommends avoiding or settling conflicts (10.1.4; 10.1.5). It also recognizes that their impacts should be assessed (7.2.3) and promotes the development of environmental research (8.4.8; 12.10). It provides that the negative effects of natural environmental factors should not be exacerbated by fisheries (7.5.5) and calls for restoration of resources affected by other uses (7.6.10). It calls specifically for consultation with fisheries authorities before making decisions regarding the abandonment of artificial structures (e.g. oil platforms) in the aquatic ecosystem. The Code contains also one Article entirely dedicated to the integration of fisheries into coastal area management (1.1; 1.3; 6.9; 8.11.3; 10.2.4). The Code calls for a reduction of pollution (7.2.2) through the development of waste disposal systems (e.g. for oil, garbage, decommissioned gear) in harbours and landing places (8.7.4; 8.9c). Dumping at sea from fishing vessels should follow the requirements of the MARPOL Convention (8.7.4) for onboard incineration (8.7.2). Emissions into the atmosphere should be reduced (8.8) including emissions of exhaust gas (8.8.1), ozone emissions, phasing out of conventional cooling agents such as chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) (8.8.3) and use of alternative refrigerants (8.8.4).

6.8 Improved Governance

The Code is recognized as a source of guidance for fisheries governance in line with all the main binding and non-binding agreements. The Code provisions related to regional fishery bodies (e.g. 6.5, 6.10, 6.12, 7.1.3, 7.6.10, 7.7.5, 10.3), legal instruments and norms (e.g. 6.13, 6.14, 6.17), national management systems (e.g. 7.1 to 7.8.1, 10.1, 10.2), participation (e.g. 6.13, 6.16), precaution (e.g. 7.5), research (e.g. 7.2.1, 7.2.3, 7.4, 12.1 to 12.20), monitoring, control and surveillance (e.g. 6.11, 7.1.7, 7.7.2), dispute resolution (e.g. 6.15, 7.6.5, 10.1.4), etc., provide guidance on the conventional governance of fisheries.[4] These are all relevant but not specific to EAF.

6.9 Uncertainty, Risk and Precaution

The Code, in line with the UNCED Rio Principle 15 and the 1995 Fish Stock Agreement, deals with uncertainty, risk and precaution (7.5) and recommends the wide application of the precautionary approach to "preserve the aquatic environment" (6.5; 7.5.1). It provides to do so taking into account various uncertainties (7.5.2; 10.2.3), using reference points (7.5.3), adopting cautious measures for new fisheries (7.5.4) and avoiding the addition of pressure on a stock naturally affected by a negative environmental impact (7.5.5). The Code also recommends a scientific Prior Impact Assessment (PIA) before a new fishery is developed or a new technology is deployed (8.4.7; 12.11).

6.10 Integrated Management

Coastal areas are one of the key geographical units for an ecosystem approach to coastal fisheries management. The Code provides that they should be protected (2g) and has a number of related articles (1.1; 1.3; 6.9; 8.11.3), as well as one article (10), entirely dedicated to the integration of fisheries into coastal areas management. A set of guidelines has been developed to assist in its implementation (FAO, 1996c; Scialabba, 1998).

[4] The listing of Articles is not exhaustive but only indicative.

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