The Foreign Office said that the UK is striving to ensure that all fishing undertaken in the Southern Ocean is carefully managed and sustainable and that the current FCO focus is supporting international work to establish a network of Southern Ocean Marine Protected Areas.
Foreign Office Minister for the Polar Regions Mark Simmonds made the comments on fish stocks around South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands following on the British television Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘Fish Fight’ program latest weekly episode which was dedicated precisely to the Southern Ocean.
In the presentation of his program Hugh, who is a sponsor of marine protected areas says that with two thirds of the planets fish stocks being over-fished, and a fifth having collapsed altogether, he aims to persuade governments around the world to set up more marine protected areas, to rebalance our seas and to allow people to continue enjoying the benefits of eating fish.
And even in that remote part of the planet, the Southern Ocean “Hugh finds out about the high-tech fishery targeting krill, the tiny shrimp at the bottom of the food chain, eaten by creatures such as whales, penguins and seals, but increasingly being eaten by humans, whether they are being used as feed to turn salmon pink or to make krill oil tablets – part of the lucrative chain of omega 3 health products”.
Minister Simmonds praised the program and welcomed the attention that Hugh has brought to the issue of fishing in the Southern Ocean, since South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands has unique and internationally important biodiversity.
“The Marine Protected Area declared last year covers over 1,000,000 square kilometers and within the MPA all destructive bottom trawling activities are prohibited and there is a full no-take marine reserve covering 20,000 square kilometers. Last month, new protective measures were announced, including seasonal closures, a ban on all bottom fishing deeper than 2,250 meters and additional no-take areas within the existing MPA” pointed out Minister Simmonds in his comments.
He added that it is of global importance that sustainable sources of marine protein be found and by demonstrating that a truly well-managed and sustainable fishery can be delivered around South Georgia, the UK is showing leadership to others.
“As a result, the toothfish fishery, and parts of the icefish and krill fishery have all achieved Marine Stewardship Council accreditation”.
Finally, “I am proud of the UK’s stewardship of this remote Overseas Territory and the UK’s role in striving to ensure that all fishing undertaken in the Southern Ocean is carefully managed and sustainable. Our current focus is supporting international work to establish a network of Southern Ocean Marine Protected Areas”.