AS4: Reducing the effects of commercial fishing on biodiversity

Date: Tuesday October 9, 2018

Location: Erottaja, ELY

Time: 15:00-16:30

Arctic waters support some of the largest industrial commercial fisheries in the world. These fisheries are responsible for a major contribution to the food security and availability of many parts of the world, as well as hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity. The Arctic also supports small-scale fisheries which have significant value to the communities which rely on them. This session provides overviews of some attempts to understand and reduce the harm that commercial activities, such as bottom trawling or gillnets may cause to the Arctic marine environment. Topics include overview reports on commercial fishing, mapping of vulnerable areas, new methodologies and technologies, communications activities and how to conceptualize and manage a commercially viable invasive species.

Chair: Signe Christensen-Dalsgaard, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research 

Format: Series of presentations followed by discussion

Presentations:

  1. What’s the catch with lumpsuckers? A review of seabird bycatch in lumpsucker gillnet fisheries in the North Atlantic: Signe Christensen-Dalsgaard, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research pdf
  2. An analysis of Circumpolar Arctic Commercial Fishing: Doug Chiasson, World Wildlife Fund pdf
  3. Epibenthic community structure in Melville Bay, West Greenland – assessing biodiversity and trawling impacts of an experimental fishery from underwater imagery: Mona Maria Fuhrmann, Institute of Zoology, ZSL London pdf
  4. Developing effective outreach tools to communicate fishing impacts in Greenland: Mona Maria Fuhrmann, Institute of Zoology, ZSL pdf
  5. Allocation of research resources for invasive species with a commercial value: The case of the red king crab: Melina Kourantidou, University of Southern Denmark pdf

 


Abstracts:

An analysis of Circumpolar Arctic Commercial Fishing

Doug Chiasson, World Wildlife Fund; Simon Walmsley World Wildlife Fund

Arctic waters support some of the largest industrial commercial fisheries in the world. These fisheries are responsible for a major contribution to the food security and availability of many parts of the world, as well as hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity. The Arctic also supports small-scale fisheries which have significant value to the communities which rely on them. This report, prepared by the WWF’s Arctic Programme, is a comprehensive analysis of the world’s Arctic commercial fisheries. From near-shore artisanal harvesting to offshore industrial exploitation, this report examines examine the methods, catches, monitoring, enforcement, ownership structures, and markets for the fisheries of the circumpolar Arctic. This presentation will help to address Recommendation 4.5 by providing an essential look at the commercial fishery across the Arctic and analysing overarching trends in industry and management on a circumpolar basis. This will allow policymakers and researchers to address cross-cutting issues rather than looking at all fisheries matters on only a nation-by-nation or region-by-region basis. It also addresses recommendation 10.1 by gathering information on harvest and harvest management from across the Arctic and identifying potential shortcomings.

 

Epibenthic community structure in Melville Bay, West Greenland – assessing biodiversity and trawling impacts of an experimental fishery from underwater imagery

Mona Maria Fuhrmann, Institute of Zoology, ZSL London

Changing patterns of biodiversity and retreating ice redirects fishing effort, which can place new pressures on vulnerable marine ecosystems. The potential threat of economic expansion to Arctic habitats is recognised by the recent moratorium on fishing in the high Arctic. Ground fisheries, using heavy gear, are some of the most severe stressors on global deep-sea biodiversity. Greenland’s economy heavily depends on trawl fisheries, with Coldwater prawns constituting one of the country’s major export. Melville bay (north of 73°30’N) off the West coast of Greenland has recently been subject to an experimental prawn fishery in 2014-2016, due to a northward shift of shrimp biomass. The presented study aims to develop an understanding of the structure, function and diversity of benthic epifauna in the area and how they respond to exploitation. Benthic imagery was collected by a drop camera from 58 stations in- and around the intensely fished area, at depths between 156 to 586m. Over 500 images were analysed for EUNIS habitat classes and epifauna, which were identified, counted and characterized into different functional classes. Data obtained from imagery was compared to beamtrawl, and bycatch data and analysed along environmental gradients and fishing effort. Fishing effort was concentrated on muddy and sandy bottoms. A provisional analysis indicated that stations within the current experimental fishery, were notably less abundant and less diverse. There was generally higher benthic abundance and diversity in the Melville Bay area than many other areas along the Western shelf. Observations included sea pens, Nephtheid corals, sponge aggregations and other VME indicator species, which led the Ministry for Fisheries and Hunting to close certain areas in for bottom trawling. This study is part of a collaborative project (between ZSL and GINR) which identifies important areas of benthic biodiversity and assesses the impacts of trawling on the seabed in West Greenland. Working closely together with partners from the industry (Sustainable Fisheries Greenland), our findings will directly support improved management of these fisheries within the MSC framework, with wider applications to the sustainable management of deep-sea fisheries in the Arctic. This study aligns with the goal of CAFF to promote the conservation and sustainable use of Arctic biodiversity. It addresses the policy recommendation for individual stressors on biodiversity by promoting the sustainable management of the Arctic’s living resources and their habitat (10, 10.b) and specifically supporting efforts to employ and improve fishing practices that reduce adverse impacts to the seabed (10.b).

 

Developing effective outreach tools to communicate fishing impacts in Greenland

Mona Maria Fuhrmann, Institute of Zoology, ZSL London

Fishing is the cornerstone of Greenland's economy. The Coldwater Prawn fishery alone accounts for almost half of the nations exports. However, some of the largest fisheries, are deep demersal trawl fisheries (Coldwater prawn depths 200-500m, Greenland Halibut depths 700-1400m). These have the potential to create significant negative impacts on benthic habitats. Conservation measures that involve restricting fishing access or adaptation of gear, requires support from the industry and the public at large, if these are to gain traction. Arctic deep seabed habitats are poorly known, even within fishing communities. Finding ways to communicate scientific findings and the ecological value of these habitats is vital for garnering support for conservation. We report on our efforts to share our findings from over 10 years of research on benthic biodiversity/habitats and deliver conservation messages to the Greenlandic and wider public, through public engagement events and notably the development of an online computer game. The game teaches sustainable fishing practise with regards to environmental impacts and involves the user fishing with scoring for catch and penalties for over exploitation and damaging vulnerable habitats. We describe the difficulties of delivering a complex and potentially controversial message with a simple, gamer-friendly approach. There will be an opportunity to give the test version a try!

 

Allocation of research resources for invasive species with a commercial value: The case of the red king crab

Melina Kourantidou, University of Southern Denmark; Brooks Kaiser, University of Southern Denmark

This paper models the optimal allocation of research resources for an invading species. Resources may be allocated ahead of the invasion frontier or within the invaded area. Research ahead of the frontier helps define external damages by establishing the baseline ecosystem services and values - that is, what we aim to protect with any subsequent preventative expenditures; research in the invaded area determines restoration needs and costs. An additional potential benefit of research in the invaded area is that it may improve management of any commercial aspect of the invading species. In other words, benefits of research may accrue either from improved information regarding the potential or actual damages of the invasion, or from improved information for solving the common property management challenges of a commercial species. If there are potential commercial benefits, straightforward application of the precautionary approach to the invasion has direct quantifiable costs in foregone commercial benefits. For the purposes of the analysis we are using the Red King Crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) as a case study. The Red King Crab is a well-established Arctic invader in the Barents Sea that conveys both harvesting benefits and ecosystem damages, which may be spatially differentiated. The damages can be alleviated by harvest. We distinguish the research for Red King Crab in different types based on their potential to reveal successfully these marginal external benefits from commercial harvesting. We illustrate how misallocation of research resources can be avoided when decision-makers are faced with the allocation dilemma and there is a significant amount of uncertainty on the ecosystem impacts. The model highlights the importance of the prioritizing criterion in research resource allocation for invasive species with a commercial value, as a means of identifying the underlying bioeconomic trade-off.

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