Tuesday, May 23, 2006
High seas biodiversity debate in Portugal
The Government of Portugal can play an important role to help bridge the current policy divide between the so-called Friends of the Fish and Friends of the Fishers. This is why we are organising next week on behalf of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition a Workshop in Lisbon, under the kind auspices of the Luso-American Foundation.
Click here to download the programme.
If you're truly a Friend of the Fishers, you better act as a Friend of the Fish, or soon there won't be anything left to fish. Today's story in Spain's El País about the collapse of the traditional tuna fisheries in Cadiz, due to the impacts of industrial fisheries, is a clear example.
Portugal has played traditionally an important role in the modern International Ocean Policy and Governance debate. The World Commission on the Ocean chaired by Mário Soares in the mid 1990s and the Lisbon World EXPO on the Ocean in 1998 provide examples of Portugal's contribution.
But when it comes to practice and decision-making at the UN or the European Union levels, is too little attention given in Portugal to the role of national the administration?
Is the Portuguese administration too often one-sided in favour of large industrial fisheries, which are often at odds with the interests of artesanal fishermen (who form the bulk of the Portuguese fishing fleet and employment) and the conservation of marine biodiversity?
Why is Portugal perceived to systematically support Spain's fisheries interests in Brussels, and is it fair?
Is more public scrutiny and consultation desirable?
These questions are timely, with the upcoming debate next month at the UN Informal Consultative Process on the Ocean and the Law of the Sea on the implementation of the Ecosystem Approach to the conservation of the marine resources (as opposed to the traditional and disastrous Single Species Approach), and the long-awaited decision at this year's UN General Assembly in October-November on the proposed moratorium on high seas bottom trawling.