Researcher Fokje Schaafsma attended this year’s annual October meeting of Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). Scientists from different member countries are represented in the scientific committee and meet every year in Hobart, Australia. During this meeting advice from CCAMLR’s scientific committee is given to the international commission that makes decisions on fisheries management and related nature conservation in the Southern Ocean.
This advice originates from several working groups that met earlier in the year to talk about matters such as krill- and fish stock sizes, the protection of specific areas and the functioning of the ecosystem, based on scientific research and information from the fisheries.
A special year
In October 2019, The Netherlands became an official member of the commission, which now consists of 26 members. The Netherlands has been interested in CCAMLR’s work for a long time and Wageningen Marine Research biologist Jan van Franeker has participated in the meetings as a member of the EU delegations for many years, but this year, the Dutch took a seat at the table under their own flag, between the delegates of Namibia and New Zealand (table ordering follows alphabetical sequence). Other commission representatives welcomed the Netherlands enthusiastically and congratulated the Dutch with their membership.
Research and politics
With the research performed by Wageningen Marine Research, scientists hope to contribute to the development of ecologically sound policies for fisheries and nature conservation the oceans surrounding Antarctica. Knowledge collected by the researchers regarding the importance of sea ice for the Antarctic food web, the biology of krill and krill stocks are of interest herein. Decisions made by the commission are, however, not on based on biology and ecology alone. Political and economic interests are also taken into account, which often complicates and slows down the decision-making process. Nevertheless, CCAMLR is a fisheries treaty that is unique in the world, having its main focus on the combined protection of harvested species and all dependent organisms in their environment.