SPORT FISHING KOBE SUMMIT

summitIn mid-July, 250 delegates from more than 50 nations representing the world's international fisheries management organizations came to San Diego, California, for the summit, Kobe III to address common fishery concerns for highly migratory fish, (tuna, billfish, sharks) including bycatch, illegal fishing, fishing capacity, research, science-based management, data reporting, compliance, enforcement and a vessel registry.

This was the first time in the history of international fishery management that the global recreational sportfishing industry hosted a reception for the international management organizations, sending the message that the sportfishing industry is a strong industry warranting equal conservation and management consideration.

Local San Diego businessman and conservationist, William McWethy, past president of NCMC, supporter and member of The Billfish Foundation and owner of Titan Marine, along with other sportfishing industry sponsors, attended the event. Impressed with the progress being made and in support of Russell Smith, NOAA's deputy assistant secretary for international fisheries, McWethy said, “We are trying to sustainably manage these species and in order to do that we need to collect and analyze information and make decisions based upon what the science tells us. This is a unique opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with an International group with common interests in our California marine resources." McWethy also had meaningful conversations with Marija Vojkovich, Regional Manager of California Fish and Game regarding Southern California marine resource management.

NOAA's Deputy Assistant Administrator Eric Schwaab led the U.S. delegation. Ellen Peel, President of The Billfish Foundation (TBF), U.S. Recreational Fishing Commissioner served on the U.S. delegation. Dr. Russell Nelson represented TBF and Russell Smith, NOAA's Deputy Assistant Administrator for International Fisheries, chaired the Summit.

Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator began by recognizing progress made at earlier summits and encouraging delegates to maintain the momentum.

Economic figures presented to the group by Peel confirmed that many Pacific Rim nations commercially fishing for tunas, kill billfish as bycatch, yet they receive substantially more financial benefit directly from recreational sport fishing than from the killing of the commercial species. Those benefits derived by individual Pacific Rim nations include the manufacturing and selling of saltwater offshore fishing tackle to the U.S. and other nations of recreational sportfishing industries as well as the income from the increased tourism and travel revenue.

The final recommendations were agreed upon that the regional organizations will implement. The nations making up the five regional fishery management organizations managing highly migratory species in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans and adjacent seas will share information about IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) vessels. Sharing this information across the regional fishery management organizations means an IUU vessel previously listed in only one region would have more difficulty avoiding detection by moving to another region.

The hope is to reduce bycatch, to register and monitor vessels, including IUU vessels, overcapacity in vessels, overfishing, compliance with regulations, data reporting, evaluation of management measures, research for improved science-based management and assisting developing nations in their capacity to manage and improve their fisheries.