The creation of a regional fisheries management body for the Southern Indian Ocean has been a primary objective of SIODFA since its formation in 2006. Thus, SIODFA applauds the commitment and responsibility shown by the members of SIOFA - The Cook Islands, The European Union, the Seychelles, and now Mauritius, in bringing about this important step in high-seas fisheries governance.
The Association of four companies, which undertake deepwater fishing in the Southern Indian Ocean, has been acutely aware of the consequences and risks of the absence of a formal international fisheries agreement in the area in which they operate. SIODFA notes that this action will satisfy a major requirement of the United Nations General Assembly in their desire that high-seas areas come under management of regional fisheries bodies.
SIODFA Executive Secretary, Dr Ross Shotton, noted that entry into force of the agreement should remove any uncertainty and delay over introducing essential fisheries management arrangements and so provide a formal means of executing the various management and conservation measures that the Association’
SIODFA vessels have been engaged in a voluntary programme of collection of biological data of species targeted by the fishery, primarily orange roughy and alfonsino and also data on bycatch of coldwater corals and deepwater sharks. Several of the Association’
SIODFA operators are dedicated to achieving sustainable fisheries for the deepwater species they target and to protecting biodiversity and have voluntarily undertaken several conservation initiatives. SIODFA operators exclusively use aimed-trawling, a technique that limits bottom contact to as little to less than 1% of the benthic habitat in the region. In mid-water trawling, the predominant fishing method used by SIODFA vessels, bottom contact by the trawl is the exception rather than the rule. In 2006, the SIODFA operators voluntarily closed substantial areas of the Southern Indian Ocean from all trawling thereby setting aside Benthic Protected Areas of 140 000 km2. Each SIODFA company has agreed to operate only one vessel in the fishery (43 vessels operated in the fishery in 2001) and discards are monitored to measure impacts on demersal biodiversity.
SIODFA looks forward to cooperating closely with the Agreement and its members and will closely support the management initiatives of the deepwater species who they wish success in addressing management and conservation requirements with other non-deepwater fisheries in the Agreement area.