In response to UNGA Resolution 61/105, SEAFO has made progress in protecting seamounts and vulnerable marine habitats from significant adverse impacts, caused by fishing. SEAFO has defined its fishing footprint, closed 11 areas to bottom contact gears, implemented exploratory and encounter fishing protocols. Furthermore, new fishing areas(areas outside existing fishing areas) are subject to scientific assessment by the SEAFO Scientific Committee, prior to approval. SEAFO has closed approximately 505,000 km2 to bottom fishing. A coral and sponge taxa guide was developed by the Spanish Oceanography Institute (lEO) and the Marine Science Faculty at the University of Vigo (Galicia, Spain), for use by scientific observers operating in the SEAFO Convention Area.
SEAFO defined bottom fishing activities, existing bottom fishing areas, new bottom fishing areas and exploratory fisheries. SEAFO mapped existing bottom fishing areas within the Convention Area for bottom fishing activities occurring between 1987-July 2011. Mapping of bottom trawling activity was given priority when delineating SEAFOs fishing footprint. The map and coordinates of existing bottom fishing areas and new fishing areas is contained in CM 26/13. The Commission revises, as appropriate, SEAFOs existing fishing areas on an annual basis.
Exploratory fishing protocol
All bottom fishing activities in new bottom fishing areas or with bottom gear not previously used are considered to be exploratory fisheries and are subject to Exploratory Bottom Fisheries Protocol (CM 26/13).
Actions from encounters of VME indicator species above defined thresholds depend on the gear deployed. All encounters above the threshold levels are reported to Executive Secretary and vessels are required to cease fishing and move 2 nm. An interim closure or 2 nm radius is also implemented in new fishing areas (CM 26/13).
SEAFOs Scientific Committee identified, in 2010, a provisional list of benthic invertebrate VME indicator species/groups for the SEAFO CA.
|Group / Species code||Phylum / Order / Family||Common name|
|GGW||Gorgonacea (Order)||Gorgonian corals|
|CSS||Scleractinia (Order)||Stony corals|
|AQZ||Anthipatharia (Order)||Black corals|
|AJZ||Alcyonacea (Order)||Soft corals|
|NTW||Pennatulacea (Order)||Sea pens|
|CWD||Crinoidea (Class)||Sea lilies|
|OWP||Ophiuroidea (Class)||Basket stars|
|SSX||Ascidiacea (Class)||Sea squirts|
Catches of VME Indicator Species
SEAFO scientific observers are required to record all locations where VME indicator species are caught. To date, no vessel has encountered by-catch above the thresholds.
Map showing bycatch locations of VME indicator species in Sub-area D (2010-2014)