Two new reports by the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) and a group of scientists show that many countries are failing to implement vital UN resolutions designed to protect vulnerable deep-sea species and ecosystems.
The reports, to be launched on Wednesday by the United Nations in New York, claim that in spite of successive UN resolutions calling for urgent action, countries such as South Korea, Russia, Cook Islands, Spain, Portugal, France, Australia, New Zealand and Japan continue to allow their vessels to fish the deep ocean in international waters using bottom trawl gear, a highly damaging fishing technique, with devastating implications for the future of deep-sea marine life in the world’s oceans.
Organized under the auspices of the EC Hermione Project, led by the UK’s National Oceanography Centre, the international workshop examined implementation of two UN General Assembly (GA) Resolutions, which sought to conserve vulnerable deep-sea species and protect fragile deep-sea habitats on the high seas. The first of these resolutions was adopted by the UN GA in 2006 and committed regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and fishing nations to fully implement regulations to protect deep-sea ecosystems and species within two years. The conclusion of the workshop is that five years later they still have not done so.
A second report published by DSCC draws similar conclusions. The DSCC found that fishing states and RFMOs have had enough time to make changes on the water but, with the exception of the management of deep-sea fisheries in the waters around Antarctica, have not done so sufficiently. The DSCC report highlights a series of failures to implement key provisions of the UN resolutions, including completion of proper impact assessments before fishing and establishing regulations to ensure the long-term sustainability of deep sea species.
“The relatively small number of nations involved in deep-sea bottom fishing on the high seas made a clear commitment to the UN GA that they would prohibit their vessels from deep-sea fishing in international waters unless or until protection measures were in place. A number of reviews have shown that while some high seas areas have been closed to bottom fishing, countries continue to allow their vessels to engage in this type of fishing in contravention of the commitments they’ve made,” said Matthew Gianna, DSCC policy advisor and report lead author. “All nations have a right to expect that the deep-sea fisheries on the High Seas — the global oceans commons — are sustainable and the ecosystems protected. Those that do not comply should be told to shape up or stop fishing. Deep-sea bottom trawling is recognized as the most serious direct threat to deep-sea ecosystems. Once destroyed, slow-growing deep-sea species are either lost forever or unlikely to recover for decades or centuries.?????”