May 17, 2011

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Jeff Ardron (left) with Dr. Phil McGillivary (right)

Jeff Ardron is the Director of High Seas Program (Washington DC) for the Marine Conservation Institute an NGO that advocates for marine conservation (http://www.mcbi.org/). He is co-principal investigator on the Surveillance and Enforcement of Remote Maritime Areas report (SERMA). At day two of the IMCC2 conference he talks about the relationships between fisheries and marine protected areas (MPAs) with Dr. Phil McGillivary.

Dr. McGillivary: Where do you think issues between stakeholders and multi-use MPAs are going in the future?

Jeff Ardron: Fisheries and conservationists are coming together. Conservation advocates are starting to realize that we need some of the flexible tools that fisheries are using, such as time-space closures to address issues of ecosystem variability. Especially in the open ocean realm we need flexible tools for flexible oceanographic processes. The fisheries management authorities are realizing they need more of an ecosystem-based perspective so they are looking to the conservation and scientific community for assistance.

In terms of multiple use of ocean resources, these uses are increasing, but by far the single largest use in the worlds oceans is still fisheries. You can add up the impacts of all the other uses combined and they are still dwarfed by fisheries. Fisheries are the issue. Ecologically speaking fisheries is the main issue, however economically shipping is huge, but shipping does not have as large an ecological effect as fishing. Ecologically speaking fishing is the number one issue, far, far ahead of anything else. I think we are fooling ourselves when we talk about various multi-use issues, when the elephant in the room is massive trophic and ecosystem effects of fishing. By taking out massive amounts of biomass, fishing, and in the case of trawling, there is both short and long-term damage to ecosystems and habitats.

Dr. McGillivary: What would constitute a successful relationship between Marine Protected Areas and fisheries, and how could these two processes potentially synergize for better management?

Jeff Ardron: What I want to talk about is food security, national security and marine protected areas. It’s all one in the same thing. We have to stop compartmentalizing fisheries into what I call the “fisheries ghetto,” we need to get fisheries out of the ghetto. Right now fisheries vessels don’t need to have IMO numbers, they do not follow labor standards, most do not need to have AIS (Automatic Identification Systems) which are standard ship tracking systems used in all the other merchant Navies, and fisheries don’t have to follow these standard maritime regulations. If I wanted to do something horrible in some country, I would just stick some fishing poles out the side of my boat and carry fishing gear as part of my cargo. Right now fisheries vessels are a huge security risk, and until we bring fisheries into the maritime domain awareness realm, until we treat them just like any other maritime activity, we have a serious security risk on our hands.

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