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United Approach To Falklands Fishery Management Recognized At World Fisheries Congress

11 May 2012

The progressive relationship between science, management and industry and the benefits for the sustainable exploitation of Falklands squid fisheries were the subjects of an inspiring paper submitted to the 6th World Fisheries Congress held in Edinburgh this week.

Providing the industry perspective Fortuna Ltd collaborated with fisheries managers from the Falkland Islands Fisheries Department on the study, which described the key enablers of effective stakeholder engagement in action in the Falklands and charted the progress made in the Loligo fishery since the introduction of the new fisheries law in 2005 that introduced fishing rights and Individual Transferable Quotas.

Delegates from 150 countries learnt how the move away from a top down control structure to more consensual form of management has encouraged compliance, enhanced the quality of fish stock data and expanded the scope for conservation measures through a greater acceptance of the shared responsibility for the husbandry of fish stocks.

Their 1-year life cycle make Loligo squid susceptible to intra-annual environment changes, more so than ordinary fish with lives and maturities that span a range of years mitigating the risks of short term environmental variances. This means that squid fishery managers must keep a close eye on the stock in real-time and be able to implement conservation measures immediately.

Effective control relies on recruitment biomass surveys, conducted immediately prior to each season, and co-operation with operators who supply their fishing vessels as platforms to conduct the important research. The quality of in-season data has also been improved by introducing electronic logbooks capturing fine scale information on catch, effort, position and squid size distribution. An at-sea observer program is in operation throughout the year. The fishery is restricted to one deep-water designated zone and the fishing is prohibited during spawning periods.

Fishery management is demonstrably science-based. Since 2005, five of seven seasons have been closed early on the basis of data collected in season.

The Falklands Loligo fishery, which is regarded as one of the best managed in the world, offers a stark contrast to the other world squid fisheries such as Loligo opalescens – Californian squid – where assessments are conducted on the basis of catch data which is only available after vessels have finished fishing and return to port – in the form of landing records - and where there exist no formal arrangement for the collection of effort information or fishing locations. In these circumstances it is therefore not possible to enact in-season management or conservation measures in case of low abundance.

Stuart Wallace, Managing Director of Fortuna Ltd, said, “Before 2005 we were operating as silos, it was impossible to take a wider view, now we are coming together, working as one group and seeing the benefits”. “No-one knows more about their squid than we do and there are certainly more efficiencies to come” he added.

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