Protected Areas will be established for conservation of commercially important fish species
This week the Government approved the Rules for Designation of Fisheries Protected Areas. Statement approving these Rules (№ 603 from 12 August 2008) was signed on 18th August in compliance with the Federal Law “On Fisheries and on the Conservation of Aquatic Biological Resources”. According to the Rules' provisions, Fisheries Protected Area is a water body where special regime and regulations for economic activities are for conservation of valuable species of aquatic biological resources and for development of fish propagation (excluding commercial fish farming) and development of fisheries.
“Protected Areas are the mechanism that will help to put in balance the interests of different users in the water bodies that are most important for fish and for other commercial species, - tells Konstantin Zgurovsky, the Head of WWF Russia Marine Programme. – All global experience has proved that without limitations set for economic activities in the areas, that are most valuable for reproduction and restoration of biological resources, long-term sustainable use of such resources is impossible'.
For example Australia has over 400 marine protected areas with different conservation regime. In Norway the so called “no go” zones are defined in the areas where Cod and other valuable fish species reproduce; such areas are closed even for oil development, in spite of the fact that the lobby for oil exploration and development at the shelf is rather strong in the country.
Designation of Fisheries Protected Areas provides not only for regulations on fisheries itself, but also sets restrictions on other types of economic activities with the main aim to conserve aquatic biological resources. This is extremely important when the issues on development priorities are discussed for larger geographical regions such as Kamchatka region and the adjacent shelf zone – the areas traditionally most important for fisheries that are currently made open also for oil and gas companies.
“This is a long awaited document, and WWF took active part in its development at the earlier stages, - notes Vassily Spiridonov, WWF Programme Coordinator. – Already at the time when discussions went for the draft of the Federal Law “On Fisheries and Conservation of Aquatic Biological Resources” WWF strongly supported introduction of new mechanism of the Fisheries Protected Areas”.
WWF submitted proposals on the criteria and procedures to define Fisheries Protected Areas to the Russian Ministry of Agriculture that was responsible at earlier stages for development of this document. Many of those suggestions have been included into this document.
At the same time a lot has to be done still in order to define and adopt the criteria for designation of Fisheries Protected Areas. Therefore WWF is convinced that approval of the Statement on the Rules for Designation of Fisheries Protected Areas shall be immediately followed by the request to the fisheries research institutions (with allocation of relevant funding) that have to develop criteria and methodology of definition and designation of the Fisheries Protected Areas, as well as the methodology that will help to determine the types of limitations and restrictions on economic activities relevant to particular cases and particular areas.