Action Group on Sustainable Coastal Fisheries

Coastal fisheries provide a rich source of income and food for the vast majority countries of the Commonwealth. It plays a vital role in many Commonwealth countries, in supporting tourism, food security, recreation, livelihoods and in providing diverse trading opportunities to strengthen national economies. However, due to a variety of reasons, most fisheries has been over-exploited in a level where most fisheries is slowly or difficult to recover.

Therefore a way forward to sustaining these biodiversity and its services, Kiribati is delighted to champion the Action Group on the sustainable coastal fisheries under the Commonwealth Blue Charter. We support the Blue Charter as a key outcome of the 2018 CHOGM and as a means to cooperatively contribute to the ecologically sustainable management of our coastal marine resources. Interested member countries are warmly welcomed to join us.

Maldives stepped forward to co-champion the Action Group on sustainable coastal fisheries at a virtual seminar hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2020.

The Action Group is championed by Kiribati and Maldives and was established to support on-going fisheries programs, efforts and approaches to ensure sustainable coastal fisheries is achieved so as benefits from coastal fisheries is continued to be experienced for the present and future generation. The actions will also support a resilient coastal fisheries in the face of climate change and mostly importantly, alignment of actions towards international, regional and national obligations.

Case studies

Lyme Bay Fisheries & Conservation Reserve, United Kingdom

Lyme Bay, on the south coast of England, is a biodiversity hotspot that supports an important inshore fishery, most especially for shellfish lobster, crab and scallop). It is also a significant area for conservation, containing important reef habitats that support a number of rare and threatened marine species.

Following conflict between mobile gear fishers (primarily scallop dredgers) and static gear fishers (potting for lobsters and crabs) over access, and evidence of damage to some of its nature conservation importance, 206 km2 of Lyme Bay was permanently closed to mobile demersal fishing gear. A series of voluntary best practice management measures that the fishers could sign up to and also benefit from were agreed.

There is a Memorandum of Understanding to promote and implement best practice in fisheries and conservation management, and a voluntary Code of Conduct, which includes fitting of an Inshore Vessel Monitoring System and caps on the volume of fishing gear deployed by vessels within the reserve. A Code of Conduct for recreational fishers has also been agreed.

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Individual Transferable Quotas for Cod Fisheries, Iceland

The fishing industry is one of the main pillars of the Icelandic economy. Cod makes up the largest proportion of the catch of coastal vessels and is currently the second most important species in terms of weight landed and the most important on average in terms of volume.

Following concern about increasingly unsustainable exploitation, a comprehensive statutory system of individual transferable quotas (ITQs) was introduced in 1990, giving fishers permanent quota shares as an incentive to take a long-term view on the harvesting and management of the resources.

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Download The Commonwealth Blue Charter

The Commonwealth Blue Charter – Shared Values, Shared Ocean. A Commonwealth commitment to work together to protect and manage our ocean.

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