Increased controls over ports and fishing vessels that could reduce illegal fishing were proposed by several countries today at a United Nations conference that is reviewing a landmark conservation and management agreement on fish stocks.Stronger measures that have been put forward during the conference to combat illegal high-seas fishing include satellite tracking systems of fishing vessels, a stronger system of controls on vessels flying flags of convenience, and steps that would make it more difficult to off-load illegal fish catches in ports. The initiatives were recommended during the first Review Conference of the 1995 Agreement Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, which is reviewing the adequacy of steps taken for the conservation and management of valuable fish stocks that cross between ocean areas under the jurisdiction of individual nations and the high seas.“From what I’ve heard so far, not all is well with the implementation of the Agreement,” said David Balton of the United States, who is chairing the Conference. Despite progress in combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, he said, “the bad actors in ocean fisheries remain in business.” Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing continued both within the zones under the jurisdiction of regional fisheries management organizations and on the high seas, he said. “It is a problem affecting all fisheries and all regions. At the ministerial level, we have heard many calls for action. Today I would like to challenge this group to see what else we can do.”Kjell Kristian Egge of Norway called illegal fishing a “huge organized business” whose profit depended on gaining access to legal markets through landing catches in ports. He said the failure of flag States to control the operations of vessels flying their flag was at the core of the problem, and enhanced port State control was crucial, including through the inspection of documents, fishing gears and catch on board vessels, as provided for by the Agreement.“A global binding instrument involving all port States seems to be the only way of achieving a comprehensive system,” he said, with port States agreeing on harmonized and mandatory obligations – a proposal subsequently supported by Australia, the European Community, the United States and others.“If all flag States were discharging their duties there would be no illegal fishing,” said C. Costa Duarte of Brazil.Stronger controls on support vessels carrying out trans-shipping of catches and resupply and refueling of boats carrying out illegal fishing were called for by James Larsen of Australia. “These at-sea support services are well-organized and largely unregulated,” he said. Regulating nationals was also crucial, he said. “States have a responsibility to regulate the activities of their nationals, as well as companies operating within their jurisdiction.” Illegal fishing, F. Magaffouba of Guinea said, is a “real catastrophe for developing countries,” adding that it was often done in fish reproduction areas, causing long-term damage. Illegal fishing deprived developing countries of revenues, and foreign fishing vessels from countries with a much longer fishing tradition and much better equipment took advantage of developing countries’ lack of resources to combat the problem. Lori Ridgeway of Canada called for a “renewed international assault” against such practices and stressed the duty of corporate responsibility. Sanctions “should be more than just the cost of doing business,” she said, citing a study that estimated that violators had one chance out of five of being apprehended, and that the fines usually imposed were so low that even with a 25-fold increase of penalties the violating vessels would still break even. William Gibbons-Fly of the United States agreed on the need to penalize illegal business and lamented the “persistence of significant illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.” He suggested developing a global registry of fishing vessels, obligating all vessels to carry a Vessel Monitoring System by 2008 and auditing registries of flag States.The Conference, which will result in a political document containing new measures to strengthen the implementation of the Agreement, is the first opportunity to formally review the pact since it entered into force five years ago.
Colorado Goldfields is developing a dry stack approach for tailings disposal at its Pride of the West Mill. Although used extensively in other parts of the world, such as Chile and Mexico, this is an innovative method of tailings disposal for the US and Colorado. Mines using dry stacking in the US include: Greens Creek, Pogo, Nixon’s Fork, and Kensington: all located in Alaska. Elsewhere TVX Gold in Montana, JR Simplot in Idaho, and Mineral Ridge in Nevada dry stack talings. “This approach to tailings disposal should remove all regulatory agency concerns surrounding the existing tailings ponds since those ponds will be reclaimed. Furthermore, and maybe even more importantly, this approach will increase the ultimate useful life and financial viability of the mill by several years,” stated Stephen C. Fearn, consulting Registered Professional Engineer for Colorado Goldfields.Lee Rice, President & CEO of the company, described dry stack plan and its importance: “Moving forward we will develop a dry stack method of tailings disposal as part of a new permit amendment.In a filtered tailings or dry stacking system, the mill tailings are filtered (de-watered) to remove approximately 85% of the water at the mill plant itself. The resulting material is approximately 85% solids and 15% water and can be transported by belt conveyor or trucks to a disposal area where they can be placed in an environmentally contained area and handled with earthmoving equipment. “Utilising this approach for tailings disposal will remove some of the issues associated with our prior permit amendment, such as:Providing improved long term geotechnical stability of the tailings disposal areaReducing concerns about potential seismic activityGreatly reduce environmental risks of contamination of ground and surface waterMaking overall compliance with environmental regulations much more efficient and straight forward.“We will also realise some immediate benefits from this dry stack approach, such as:Smaller environmental footprint for tailings disposal areaSmaller operating area at any one time, which is easier to manageVastly improved management of tailing disposal operations during winter season, which is approximately seven months of the yearFacilitates the ability to use tailings for mine backfill to improve underground ore extraction efficiency and reduce need for additional tailings disposal areaConserves water use in the milling processLower long-term environmental liability from possible failure of conventional tailings dam structures.