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Event Details
Event Management of Deepwater Small-Scale Fisheries
Date(s) Wednesday 26th November 2003
Thursday 27th November 2003
Friday 28th November 2003
Saturday 29th November 2003
Organiser FAO
                                        FAO Working Group Meeting


Management of Deepwater Small-Scale Fisheries


To be held


  26/27 – 29 November 2003,

Universityof Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand


Meeting Context


            During 1 – 5 December  2003, the N. Z. Ministry of Fisheries, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry - Australia and the FAO will convene a Conference on the Governance and Management of Deep Sea Fisheries (see <>).  This Conference will discuss the governance and management of continental slope and deep-sea demersal fisheries and will address issues such as ecosystem biology, resource assessment, management policies and instruments and international protocols.  In the week preceeding the Conference several Pre-conference meetings will be held that address in detail specific areas of deepsea fisheries management. One of these will be the Working Group on Management of Deepwater Small-Scale Fisheries (WG – DWSSF).  This Working Group is being convened, inter alia, in response to the recommendation of the Fourth Session of the Advisory Committee on Fisheries Research (Rome, December 2002), which highlighted the importance of small-scale fisheries and the establishment of an ACFR Working Party on Small-Scale Marine Fisheries.  It is intended that the meeting of the WG – DWSSF will contribute to the purpose of the ACFR Working Party to:


…elaborate a draft research agenda and undertake an evaluation of the role and importance of small-scale marine fisheries and outline ways in which the transition to responsible fisheries can be facilitated, bearing in mind the developing paradigm of the ecosystem approach to fisheries


within the context of deepsea fisheries.


The Working Group is also being organized with reference to the deliberations of the 25th Fifth Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI, Rome, February 2003).  The Committee emphasized the importance of the small-scale fisheries to food security and poverty reduction and that the small-scale sector faces an array of serious problems, including inherent operational risks, overexploitation of resources, and lack of sufficient attention in many national development programmes.  The Twenty-fifth Session of COFI called on FAO generally to devote more efforts to the promotion of sustainable small-scale fisheries.





            With increasing fishing effort targeting near shore and inshore fish stocks, countries around the world are increasingly moving to exploit deepwater resources.  This trend, while most evident among the major industrialized fishing countries, is also occurring in many, if not most, smaller fishing states as well.  Indeed, the existence of many small island states, arising from volcanic extrusions through the sea floor results in fishing areas that are characterized by exceeding narrow continental shelves and relatively large continental slope areas.  These slope areas provide habitats to valuable but greatly limited fishery resources that are characterized by their own particular resource management challenges.


            The fish species that are commonly found in such tropical-area slope environments include:


Deepwater Blackfish


Deepwater redfish

Actmopyga echinites

Crimson jobfish

Etelis brevirostris

Ruby snapper

Etelis carbunculus

Flame snapper

Etelis coruscans

Goldbanded jobfish

Pristipomoides multidens

Crimson jobfish

Pristipomoides flavippinis




In other areas, such as the central Atlantic, Blackscabbard fish (Aphanopus carbo) has been the target of a traditional artisanal fishery for nearly 200 years.  In the Caribbean, a range of valuable deepwater species are targeted warsaw grouper (Epinephelus nigritus), misty grouper (Epinephelus mystacinus), yellowedge grouper (Epinephelus flavolimbatus), snowy grouper (Epinephelus niveatus), speckled hind (Epinephelus drummondhayi), sand tilefish (Malacanthus plumieri) and blueline tilefish      (Caulolatilus microps).  These fish commonly occur in aggregations in depths between 100 and 500m, on the slope and on seamounts and associated ridges.  In other areas small and finite resouces of deep-sea crustaceans are also available.


            These fisheries commonly depend on targetted longlining in which fish concentrations are first located with echosounders before the gear is deployed. Because of this, and because of the restricted distribution of target species along depth contours of the continental slopes, these relatively long-lived fish are particularly vulnerable to overexploitation, if not extirpation.



The Management Challenges


            Deepwater fisheries pose a distinct set of management challenges owing to their special characteristics.  They typically:


i.          target fish resources of potentially of high value  – i.e. fish that are readily accepted on export markets if transportation is available;

ii.          are small-scale in nature, which results in relatively high management costs as separate assessments and management plans may be needed;

iii.         require special attention for the control of fishing effort and/or catches in order to avoid unsustainable harvesting of the resource;

iv.         occur in the regions of small island states, though they are also found off the coasts of countries with narrow shelves not experiencing (strong) western boundary currents (i.e. episodes of seasonal upwelling); and

v.         entail safety-at-sea as an increasingly important concern, as small-scale fishers extend the range of their fishing operations.



Objectives of the Workshop


            The DWSSF Working Group will review and synthesize policies, practices and related information related to the management of deepwater small-scale fisheries.  These will include:


           Population models describing the productivity of DWSSF and constraints on parameterizing such models with particular emphasis on the analysis and control of growth and recruitment overfishing;

           Experiences with input and output controls on management of DWSSF including the management of fishery access rights;

           Harvesting techniques (i.e. gear and technology) and their challenges to management

           Successes (and failures) in stakeholder participation in management of DWS-SFs and

           Confronting the new demands of fisheries management (e.g. Ecosystem approach to fisheries management; the precautionary principle; conservation of bio-diversity) in DWSSF; and.

           The implications for ‘Safety at Sea’ of expanding small-scale fisheries, particularly of small island states.


Papers will be invited and experiences and views relating to DWSSF will be discussed during the working group meeting.



Outputs from the Workshop


As appropriate, the findings of the pre-Conference meeting will be reported to the Plenary Conference the following week.  Papers and discussions of the Working Group will be included in the conference proceedings, or if appropriate, in a separate conference report.  The Working Group will be invited to identify the needs for future work and the priorities of different possible tasks, taking into account the above-mentioned ACRF and COFI reference points.



Who Should Attend this Meeting?


This meeting is aimed at representatives of small-scale fishing organizations targeting deepwater fish stocks, fisheries managers and administrators and policy makers responsible for the management of small-scale fisheries.


N.B. Money to fund participation from SIDS (only) to this workshop in New Zealand is still available. For further details contact Ross Shotton


Full event details here...