The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) was founded in 2004 in response to international concerns over the harmful impacts of deep-sea bottom trawling.
Today more than 80 non-government organizations, fishers organizations and law and policy institutes worldwide are working together under the umbrella of the DSCC to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems. We have two main goals:
- To substantially reduce the greatest threats to life in the deep sea;
- To safeguard the long-term health, integrity and resilience of deep-sea ecosystems.
Working with scientists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), intergovernmental organizations and governments, we target the United Nations and other bodies to call for action.
Our current priorities are ensuring that:
- Seamount ecosystems in the high seas are protected from bottom trawling;
- States honor their United Nations commitments to protect deep-sea species and ecosystems on the high seas from the harmful impacts of bottom fishing;
- Authorities and governments across the globe issue a moratorium (official delay) on permitting any deep-sea mining until the risks are understood, it can be demonstrated that it will not cause damage to the marine environment, public support has been obtained, alternatives have been explored and governance issues have been resolved;
- EU Regulations adopted in 2016 to manage deep-sea fishing in the Northeast Atlantic are effectively implemented;
- Protection of the deep sea is effectively addressed in the high seas treaty currently being negotiated at the United Nations.
Past achievements in deep-sea fishing
The DSCC has to date brought significant change to international law, policy and regulations to protect deep-sea ecosystems, but much more needs to be done.
Founded to promote international action to address the damage to deep-sea ecosystems caused by bottom trawl fishing on the High Seas, the DSCC and its members made this a dominant issue of debate at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) between 2003 and 2006.
As a result, the UNGA adopted a series of resolutions committing States to prevent deep-sea fisheries damaging deep-sea ecosystems. This in turn led to:
- Three new Regional Fisheries Management Organizations established to regulate high seas bottom fisheries in previously unregulated regions;
- A ban on bottom trawl fishing on the high seas of the Southern Ocean in 2006;
- A ban on gillnet fishing in many high seas areas;
- The closure or provisional closure of 90% of the seamounts along the mid-oceanic ridge in the Northeast Atlantic to bottom fishing;
- The closure of most seamounts in the Northwest Atlantic to bottom fishing;
- Large areas of the North and South Pacific being provisionally closed to bottom fishing;
- A prohibition on European Union fleets operating on the high seas of the South West Atlantic trawling below 300-400m;
- Significant improvements in conservation and management measures in a number of high seas fisheries to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs), bycatch species and fish stocks.
Our work has also resulted in the adoption of more restrictive measures in national waters, including a prohibition on bottom trawl fishing below 800m in EU waters.
Past achievements in deep-sea mining
Since 2014, the DSCC and its member organizations have consistently argued for a precautionary approach and protection of deep-sea ecosystems and biodiversity at meetings of the International Seabed Authority and beyond. DSCC has attended International Seabed Authority (ISA) meetings since 2014, advocating for deep sea protection in briefing papers, interventions (statements) and in workshops.
The DSCC has contributed to influential scientific papers arguing that biodiversity loss is inevitable if deep-sea mining occurs and making the case against further exploration licenses and preventing commercial mining.
The DSCC has worked with a broad range of organizations to recognize the threat of deep-sea mining, and successfully raised the issue with governments in an effort to create global debate.
The DSCC and its members have successfully brought the threats of deep-sea mining into the public eye through numerous reports, news articles and social media.
You can read detailed accounts of our past activity in our annual reports in our resources section.
The DSCC was incorporated as a foundation in the Netherlands in 2013, with an affiliate in New Zealand from 2014. Grants received by the DSCC are used towards communications, advocacy, analysis, coalition building, coordination and technical support – all relating to the objective of protecting vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems and conserving deep-sea species.