3 May 2010

Global conservation group identifies threat to Pacific seamounts

6:19 am on 3 May 2010

A workshop run by the International Union for Conservation of Nature has identified a need for more knowledge of undersea mountains, important to many fisheries, in the Pacific.

The two-day meeting in Fiji drew participants from 12 Pacific countries as well as fishing industry representatives, scientists and regional organisations to discuss the impacts of longline fishing and other activities on seamounts.

Research based on a 2009 survey of longline fishermen, used during the workshop, shows that about 40 percent of all longline fishing, especially when yellowfin tuna is targeted, takes place around seamounts.

The meeting provided an opportunity to compare results from that survey with detailed analysis undertaken in the same year by the Secretariat for the Pacific Community of fishermen's logbook records.

It also exposed existing legislative capacity within most pacific governments to protect sensitive areas, including seamounts, within their exclusive economic zones, if there's the necessary political will.