WWF-RUSSIA CALLS FOR TEMPORARY BAN ON PACIFIC HALIBUT FISHING
WWF-Russia calls for temporary ban on Pacific halibut fishing. WWF-Russia has sent a letter to the head of the Russian Federal Fishery Agency, outlining their concerns about a fourfold decline of the Pacific halibut population which has been witnessed in the recent years in the northern part of the Sea of Okhotsk and near the Kamchatka peninsula.
WWF-Russia experts are certain that a temporary ban on bottom longline fishing alongside a revision of stock assessment methods will prevent a disaster, preserve the habitats, and ensure halibut population growth.
Sergey Rafanov, the head of the Sustainable Marine Fishery Programme of WWF-Russia said:
“The Pacific halibut stock assessment is based on everyday reports provided by fishing vessels. There is a serious lack of field reports and information provided by scientific observers. The allowable catch is over-estimated because of that. Contributing factors are not taken into account as well.
“For example, we do not know anything about young fish bycatch, the impact of fishing gear on benthic communities, and how predators impact stocks. The Greenland halibut population follows the same trends, which is also concerning. We are certain that drastic measures must be implemented today.”
The suggested measures include:
- a temporary ban on bottom longline fishing for halibut offshore of the Kamchatka peninsula and in the northern part of the Sea of Okhotsk
- a ban on young halibut (the minimal size of fish must be determined) bycatch for any fishing gear
- an increase in quantity and quality of specialised scientific research
- a revision of the existing stock assessment methods