AGREEMENT ON MEASURES TO PROTECT VULNERABLE BIOTOPES OF THE BARENTS SEA – CONCLUSION
A keel was laid at Severnaya Verf shipyard in St Petersburg for a fourth of six factory trawlers to harvest in the North Atlantic Ocean (project 170701). Construction shall be finished in 2022. The vessel will be operated by Murmansk Region Fleet JSC, part of Norebo Group.
The conclusion of the Agreement is another step by Russian fisheries to enhance measures for preserving the ecosystem of the Barents Sea and developing principles of environmentally sustainable exploration of aquatic biological resources.
The Agreement is the result of a successful long-term cooperation between fisheries, WWF Russia and scientific organisations to develop possible measures to reduce the impact of bottom fishing on the marine environment.
The main goal of the Agreement is to obtain reliable scientific data on the species composition of the seabed ecosystems as well as produce recommendations on the protection of vulnerable biotopes in the Barents Sea together with environmental and scientific organisations. The Agreement identifies three areas in the Barents Sea (two in the north and one in the southwest), where there is a high probability of finding vulnerable marine habitats. These are the areas where the parties to the Agreement commit to limit their bottom trawl fishing activities whenever possible. Taking into account a rather large size of the specified areas in the Agreement and the lack of scientific data, the parties to the Agreement will cooperate in order to study seabed biotopes in these areas and strive to register the by-catch of marine benthos to the fullest extent.
The Agreement currently applies to 97 Russian vessels fishing for north-eastern Arctic cod, haddock, saithe and northern shrimp.
The parties also envisaged a mechanism for independent monitoring of their fishing activities, which will allow to analyse the work of the vessels and confirm the fulfilment of obligations under this Agreement.
“The decision to conclude the Agreement was not an easy one, but all participants are united in the understanding that maintaining a healthy and productive ecosystem in the Barents Sea is the guarantee of our well-being and the well-being of future generations of Russia,” says Sergei Sennikov, a representative of NOREBO Group.
Konstantin Drevetnyak, General Director of the nonprofit organization Union of Fisheries of the North, noted: “This Agreement marks another stage of painstaking and long-term work of both fishing companies and scientific organizations with the active support of WWF Russia. It is the foundation for the formation of a responsible approach to the use of the natural resources of our planet.”
“The Agreement gives a chance to the fishing companies competing in the fishing industry to unite so that their business has a sustainable future,” adds Yuri Parshev, a representative of the FEST group of companies.
“Arkhangelsk Trawl Fleet JSC celebrated its 100th anniversary this year. Our plans are not limited to three years, we deliberately introduce some restrictions so that both the state of aquatic biological resources and the state of our business are stable in the foreseeable future. This is a normal behaviour of a responsible business”, says Sergey Nesvetov, Executive Director of Arkhangelsk Trawl Fleet JSC.
The agreement comes into force on August 1, 2020 and is open for accession by both Russian and foreign fisheries.
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