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Deep-sea fishing nations must make progress on protecting sensitive ecosystems at NAFO annual meeting

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The Annual Meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) opened on 21 September. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition is calling on the member countries of NAFO to agree to close seamounts and all areas identified by the Scientific Council of NAFO such as deepwater coral and sponge ecosystems to bottom trawling. 

NAFO is responsible for managing bottom fisheries on the high seas of the Northwest Atlantic.  This year, scientists have advised that all seamounts and related ‘underwater features’ within the NAFO Convention Area be closed to bottom fishing. Scientists have also completed a review of existing fisheries closures to assess whether they are adequate to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems, including deep-sea habitat-forming species such as sponges and corals. 

“Following initial progress in the previous decade,  NAFO has since dragged its feet on implementing scientific advice on protecting deep-sea habitats,” said Matthew Gianni, policy advisor to the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, an observer to NAFO. 

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All NAFO member countries have signed up to repeated global commitments adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, beginning in 2006, to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems on the high seas from the harmful impacts of bottom fishing, in particular bottom trawling. 

“Given the continued ringing of alarm bells on the state of the world’s biodiversity, it is imperative that countries who fish on the high seas live up to their UN commitments to make sure that biodiversity is protected and our ocean can continue to be resilient and support healthy fisheries,” said Gianni. “There is absolutely no reason to continue destroying species and habitats that may take hundreds or thousands of years to recover”. 

The DSCC is expecting Contracting Parties to NAFO to agree to all recommended additions to closed areas, a full closure of all seamounts and related features, further conservation measures for Greenland Shark, and adherence to science advice for all regulated fisheries. 

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The NAFO meeting ends on 24 September. The Member countries (Contracting Parties) are Canada, Cuba, Denmark (in respect of the Faroe Islands and Greenland), the European Union,  France (in respect of St. Pierre et Miquelon), Iceland, Japan, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Baltics

Baltic Sea: Agreement reached on 2022 fishing

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The Council of the European Union has reached an agreement on the fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2022, on the basis of the Commission's proposal. The agreement comes at a difficult time for the Baltic Sea, as environmental pressures and challenges stemming from pollution are taking their toll on fish stocks as well. Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius welcomed the agreement: “Restoring the marine environment and the fish stocks in the Baltic Sea is at the heart of the Commission's approach to setting fishing opportunities and I am happy that the Council has agreed to follow it for most of the stocks. In recent years, the problems in the Baltic have had a devastating impact on our fishers. This is why our comprehensive approach, with concrete actions targeting environment, is crucial. The decisions reached are difficult, but necessary, so that the Baltic Sea can remain the source of livelihood for fishermen and women today and tomorrow.” 

The Council adopted fishing opportunities for several stocks with substantial reductions, such as -88% for western Baltic cod. It also agreed on additional recovery management measures, such as limiting fishing to unavoidable by-catches for salmon in the southern main basin and western herring, as well as extended spawning closure and a ban on recreational fisheries for western Baltic cod. The agreement on the Joint Recommendation of Baltic Member States for a more selective fishing gear for flatfish is a step change in fisheries management, which allowed to increase the plaice total allowable catch (TAC) accordingly, without putting at risk the ailing cod stocks. The Council agreed increases for herring in the Gulf of Riga, sprat and salmon in the Gulf of Finland. More information in this news item.

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Maritime

Russia’s fishing fleet gears up for success

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Already the fourth largest global exporter of seafood by volume, Russia plans to nearly double its total seafood exports by 2024. To achieve this, Russian fishing operators have unveiled plans to encourage greater investment in the industry, seeking to accelerate the roll-out of state-of-the-art vessels, modern seafood processing plants, and improved railways.

‘There has been around $5 billion invested in the Russian fish industry,’ said Petr Savchuk, deputy head of

Already the fourth largest global exporter of seafood by volume, Russia plans to nearly double its total seafood exports by 2024. To achieve this, Russian fishing operators have unveiled plans to encourage greater investment in the industry, seeking to accelerate the roll-out of state-of-the-art vessels, modern seafood processing plants, and improved railways.

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‘There has been around $5bn invested in the Russian fish industry,’ said Petr Savchuk, deputy head of Rosrybolovstovo, the Russian Federal Agency for Fishing. ‘But this is just the beginning’.

In 2018, Russia started the construction of 35 new fishing trawlers and 20 new seafood processing plants, centred primarily around the country’s largest fishing ports on the Far East seaboard. In addition, Rosrybolovstovo set a target of building at least 100 new vessels by 2025, a 50% increase in the fleet’s overall capacity. However, since then, investment has begun to soar. In particular, Russia has unveiled plans to build railway hubs across the country, helping to speed up the movement of raw goods from the major fishing ports in Kamchatka to Russia’s Atlantic side, including its primary fishing export hub in Murmansk.

On 12 April this year, FESCO Transportation Group began transporting containerised fish along the Trans-Siberian route, with products travelling at speed from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg. From there, the shipment was shipped across to Bremerhaven in Northern Germany. According to FESCO, this new route is twice as fast as transporting products via Suez and it shows that Russian firms are upgrading their logistics with great success.

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To reduce congestion, Russian authorities have also begun opening several more fishing export hubs throughout the country. As Savchuk explains: ‘[hubs are] being developed, for example in Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Rostov-on-Don and other big cities in Russia where big cold-store facilities are being built.’

One company making an outsize contribution, both in the Far East and in the cod fisheries of the North Atlantic, is Norebo. Investing $45m in a new shipping terminal in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Norebo looks to create an end-to-end service for fishing vessels in Russia. The terminal will allow vessels to store their fish in refrigerating containers in the Far East before shipping them to western Russia, the US, and Europe.

Following the implementation of its fleet renewal programme in 2017, Norebo will soon have some of the most modern vessels operating not just in Russia but in the world. Radicalising how Russia’s fishing industry operates, Norebo’s new state-of-the-art vessels are set to increase energy efficiency, decrease waste, and create more comfortable working conditions for crews.

‘A modern fleet is a requirement of our times. Only new vessels with high-tech equipment can offer optimal catch processing, as well as high standards of safety and comfort for the crew,’ said a Norebo spokesperson.

It appears Norebo strives to achieve this and more with its latest fleet of vessels under construction.

Indeed, one of the group’s vessels, named Captain Korotich, incorporates architectural design elements never used before on a Russian fishing vessel. The hull is capsule shaped with an Enduro Bow line, which allows for increased working space on board and improved seaworthiness. It also has an incredibly powerful engine (6200kW), which enables the vessel to reach speeds of up to 15.5 knots and operate in ice up to 0.5m thick, while using less fuel than other comparable engines.

Designed with energy efficiency in mind, the vessel will also use electricity generated by the trawl winches for lighting and repurpose the excess heat from the main engine to heat the ship’s rooms, including the cabins. Ingeniously, on Pacific vessels such as Captain Korotich, fish oil collected during waste processing is even put towards powering the boiler. These innovations reduce carbon emissions and eliminate unnecessary waste, all of which contributes to the excellent sustainability of the end product.

The company’s newest longline vessels will also be equipped with modern multi-functional factories that allow for advanced catch processing directly on board. This means that the time between catching the premium quality fish and creating the final product, ready for cooking, is shortened dramatically, with processing waste also reduced to almost zero. Norebo has found the provision of onboard factories has even improved the final product that reaches kitchens, as processing the fish immediately after it is caught helps to preserve its freshness, taste and nutrients.

Five years has passed since Norebo first announced its fleet renewal programme. Since then, the company has revealed plans to build ten state-of-the-art vessels, with more still to come. But every time a new keel is laid, it feels like the first time all over again. As Norebo founder Vitaly Orlov reflected at the unveiling of the first vessel in 2018: ‘Although Norebo’s current fishing fleet is up to date, the time to renew is coming. Today is a very emotional moment when we lay the keel of the first vessel. I hope that this event today will give a positive signal to the shipbuilding industry that Russia intends to build vessels that are as good as, or even better, than [from] shipyards anywhere in the world.’

With Norebo leading the way, Russia’s fishing fleet already competes with the leading fishing nations of the world in terms of consistency, quality of product and commitments to sustainable practices. Considering the future investment plans already announced, Russia is well on its way to meet the target of nearly doubling exports by 2024, confirming its status as a world leader, ranking alongside the legendary fishing fleets of old.

In 2018, Russia started the construction of 35 new fishing trawlers and 20 new seafood processing plants, centred primarily around the country’s largest fishing ports on the Far East seaboard. In addition, Rosrybolovstovo set a target of building at least 100 new vessels by 2025, a 50% increase in the fleet’s overall capacity. However, since then, investment has begun to soar. In particular, Russia has unveiled plans to build railway hubs across the country, helping to speed up the movement of raw goods from the major fishing ports in Kamchatka to Russia’s Atlantic side, including its primary fishing export hub in Murmansk.

On the 12th of April this year, FESCO Transportation Group began transporting containerized fish along the Trans-Siberian route, with products travelling at speed from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg. From there, the shipment was shipped across to Bremerhaven in Northern Germany. According to FESCO, this new route is twice as fast as transporting products via Suez and it shows that Russian firms are upgrading their logistics with great success.

To reduce congestion, Russian authorities have also begun opening several more fishing export hubs throughout the country. As Savchuk explains: ‘[hubs are] being developed, for example in Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Rostov-on-Don and other big cities in Russia where big cold-store facilities are being built.’

One company making an outsize contribution, both in the Far East and in the cod fisheries of the North Atlantic, is Norebo. Investing $45m in a new shipping terminal in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Norebo looks to create an end-to-end service for fishing vessels in Russia. The terminal will allow vessels to store their fish in refrigerating containers in the Far East before shipping them to western Russia, the US, and Europe.

Following the implementation of its fleet renewal programme in 2017, Norebo will soon have some of the most modern vessels operating not just in Russia but in the world. Radicalising how Russia’s fishing industry operates, Norebo’s new state-of-the-art vessels are set to increase energy efficiency, decrease waste, and create more comfortable working conditions for crews.

‘A modern fleet is a requirement of our times. Only new vessels with high-tech equipment can offer optimal catch processing, as well as high standards of safety and comfort for the crew,’ said a Norebo spokesperson.

It appears Norebo strives to achieve this and more with its latest fleet of vessels under construction.

Indeed, one of the group’s vessels, named Captain Korotich, incorporates architectural design elements never used before on a Russian fishing vessel. The hull is capsule shaped with an Enduro Bow line, which allows for increased working space on board and improved seaworthiness. It also has an incredibly powerful engine (6200kW), which enables the vessel to reach speeds of up to 15.5 knots and operate in ice up to 0.5m thick, while using less fuel than other comparable engines.

Designed with energy efficiency in mind, the vessel will also use electricity generated by the trawl winches for lighting and repurpose the excess heat from the main engine to heat the ship’s rooms, including the cabins. Ingeniously, on Pacific vessels such as Captain Korotich, fish oil collected during waste processing is even put towards powering the boiler. These innovations reduce carbon emissions and eliminate unnecessary waste, all of which contributes to the excellent sustainability of the end product.

The company’s newest longline vessels will also be equipped with modern multi-functional factories that allow for advanced catch processing directly on board. This means that the time between catching the premium quality fish and creating the final product, ready for cooking, is shortened dramatically, with processing waste also reduced to almost zero. Norebo has found the provision of onboard factories has even improved the final product that reaches kitchens, as processing the fish immediately after it is caught helps to preserve its freshness, taste and nutrients.

Five years has passed since Norebo first announced its fleet renewal programme. Since then, the company has revealed plans to build ten state-of-the-art vessels, with more still to come. But every time a new keel is laid, it feels like the first time all over again. As Norebo founder Vitaly Orlov reflected at the unveiling of the first vessel in 2018: ‘Although Norebo’s current fishing fleet is up to date, the time to renew is coming. Today is a very emotional moment when we lay the keel of the first vessel. I hope that this event today will give a positive signal to the shipbuilding industry that Russia intends to build vessels that are as good as, or even better, than [from] shipyards anywhere in the world.’

With Norebo leading the way, Russia’s fishing fleet already competes with the leading fishing nations of the world in terms of consistency, quality of product and commitments to sustainable practices. Considering the future investment plans already announced, Russia is well on its way to meet the target of nearly doubling exports by 2024, confirming its status as a world leader, ranking alongside the legendary fishing fleets of old.

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Baltics

Listen to the ocean: EU AGRIFISH fisheries minister demand to end Baltic overfishing

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As EU fisheries ministers arrived for the AGRIFISH Council meeting on 11 October in Luxembourg, they received a musical exhortation from a quartet of classical musicians and an opera singer, calling on them to Listen to the Ocean and the science, by setting fishing limits within scientific advice. Arel Ensemble performed excerpts from String Quartet No. 4 by Bacewicz, String Quartet No. 8 by Shostakovich, String Quartet in E Minor by Czerny, and Movement for String Quartet by Copland, and were joined by mezzo-soprano opera singer Luisa Mauro for Il Tramonto by Respighi outside the European Convention Centre in Luxembourg, where EU fisheries ministers are gathering to set fishing limits for Baltic Sea fish populations for 2022.

Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius attended the performance. “I’m performing this morning because I am sensitive to the future of our planet and music is my way of expression,” said mezzo-soprano opera singer Luisa Mauro.

“I believe it is important to use an ecosystem-based approach to regulate access to marine resources, in order to ensure sustainability, and to prohibit destructive fishing methods”.

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“The Arel Ensemble is proud to play outside the AGRIFISH meeting here in Luxembourg this morning, to promote the need to fight for the planet and a better, sustainable future!” said Bartłomiej Ciastoń, first violin. “With our Polish roots, the musicians of Arel Ensemble are well placed to respond to, and understand the need, to protect the Baltic Sea from overfishing. As musicians, we are taking action to preserve nature and help the marine environment in a way that we do the best and with heart - by playing music.”

“Today, the EU AGRIFISH Council will set fishing limits for Baltic Sea fish populations for 2022. We are running against the clock to stop the collapse of the Baltic Sea ecosystem and deliver on political promises to halt the climate and nature crises”, said Rebecca Hubbard, Our Fish Program Director. “The setting of fishing opportunities at sustainable levels is an essential precondition to deliver on these promises. Baltic Fisheries Ministers must listen to the ocean and the science, by setting fishing limits within scientific advice.”

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