Importance of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries in Georgia
Keywords:ecosystem approach, responsible fishery, hydrobionts, aquaculture, mariculture, fish farms
The economic downturn in the 1990s and early 2000s associated with the break-up of the Soviet Union had a negative impact on Georgian fisheries. Both marine and freshwater fisheries and aquaculture suffered considerable decline. The Georgian fishing fleet deteriorated. The role of state institutions in fisheries management weakened and funding of scientific research diminished. Economic and institutional problems had a negative effect on the state of aquatic bio-resources. The excessive and relentless use of living resources, use of illegal fishing gear and degradation of coastal ecosystems led to a considerable reduction in fish stocks, while the number of vulnerable and endangered species increased. Starting from the new millennium the attitude has changed. In 2004-2005 the 15-year plan for the development of the ecosystem approach to fisheries in Georgia was initiated with support from the FAO. A Georgian law on fisheries and aquaculture has been introduced. Discussions on responsible fisheries and an aquaculture code have also started, but are still pending. On the other hand, the fisheries department of the Ministry of Agriculture was abolished and the single fisheries research institute met a similar fate. Fisheries regulation came under the authority of the ministry of environment. There is still a lot to be done in order to establish an ecosystem approach to fisheries in Georgia. First of all, the legislative base must be addressed, including the Georgian law on fisheries, which would consider such issues as long-term sustainable development of fisheries, a responsible code of conduct for fishermen, monitoring and management structures at the national level, allocation of resources and application of scientific approaches in development of fisheries, aquaculture and mariculture.
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