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New Website Launched for Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems

19 December 2014

GLOBAL - A new website has been launched for vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs). It is the fruit of collaboration between FAO, regional fisheries management organisations or arrangements (RFMO/As), other multi-lateral bodies, and individuals from national fisheries departments.

The VME website, including a Portal and the VME DataBase, gives users prompt access to information on measures taken by RFMO/As to protect VMEs in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ). It was initiated in response to recognition by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), in 2006, of the need to address issues related to bottom fishing activities in ABNJ.

It illustrates the efforts of the international fishery community to address the impacts of such activities in VMEs, and demonstrates this community’s commitment to ensuring responsible use of marine resources in the deep seas of ABNJ.

The DataBase is an interactive map that users can filter by year and region to depict geographic VME information, such as existing closures or access-restricted areas.

They can also link to more-detailed information on the related measures or protocols for such areas. Thus, users can navigate the map across time and track the progress made by RFMO/As in identifying and protecting VMEs.

The Portal is a gateway to the DataBase and includes comprehensive background information on the global processes related to VME matters.

It also links directly to the RFMO/A websites, which host additional information on regulatory processes. The RFMO/As will update the Portal as they acquire new information and as new measures are taken as part of the process of refining the identification and protection of VMEs in ABNJ.

Emerging from the UNGA, the VME DataBase developed through a participatory process involving policy-makers, scientists, deep-sea fishing industry representatives, and data managers. FAO facilitated this process, also through two global meetings at FAO headquarters in Rome (2011 and 2014) and various regional workshops. Currently, FAO is uploading the Portal and VME DataBase data using publicly available information from RFMO/As for the period 2006–2014.

However, eventually, the RFMO/As will be able to maintain and update the VME DataBase information individually. While the VME DataBase serves decision-makers, scientists, observers, and members of RFMO/As, the website is also intended for people interested in deepsea fisheries and their interaction with marine species, including marine habitats, and it allows ready access to information on deep-sea fisheries management measures.

VMEs are an important component of deep-sea fisheries management, and the Portal and VME DataBase will function as additional tools to inform decision-making processes in international fora and support academic research and education in deep-sea fisheries management. The general public can now quickly find current information on these protective measures.

The Portal and the VME DataBase enable users to see and understand how deep-sea fisheries management is working to enhance biodiversity conservation throughout ABNJ, and to share knowledge with and learn from other regions.

Those wishing to find out more about the extensive work occurring in ABNJ, can access the Database directly from the Portal,

TheFishSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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