The ocean depths were once considered just a setting for shipwrecks, monster squid and the primordial ooze, but over the past several decades scientists have discovered a previously unknown wealth of biodiversity. The dark depths of our oceans are home to cold-water corals, sponge fields, seamounts, hydrothermal vents and a multitude of other ecosystems that shelter strange and mysterious creatures found nowhere else on Earth. But this extraordinarily rich and fragile deep-sea life is under threat from a range of human economic activities. Those posing the greatest direct current or imminent physical threat are fishing practices - the most destructive being deep-sea bottom trawling — and deep seabed mining.
The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition was founded in 2004 to address the issue of bottom trawling on the high seas in the absence of an effective regime for the management of deep-sea fisheries on the high seas and in response to international concerns over the harmful impacts of deep-sea bottom trawling. Working with scientists, NGOs, intergovernmental organizations and numerous governments, the DSCC has effectively and consistently targeted the United Nations General Assembly and other international fora to call for action.
From the beginning the DSCC has been focused on achieving two overarching goals:
Our objective also remains unchanged: Securing permanent protection for vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems and species from the harmful impacts of deep-sea fishing and other human activities.
Today over 70 organizations worldwide are working together under the umbrella of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) to protect cold-water corals and vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems. We are:
1The deep sea starts beyond the shallower continental shelf and includes the slope and rise of the continental margin, deep-ocean basins and plains, trenches, midocean ridge systems, smaller ridge systems, seamounts, plateaus and other underwater features rising from the deep ocean floor. This area constitutes over 90 percent of the ocean bottom and mostly lies beyond 200 nautical miles from shore.
2Virtually all bottom trawling activity in the high seas is being conducted by 11 of the world's wealthier nations: Denmark/Faroe Islands, Estonia, Iceland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia and Spain. The European Union (EU), in particular, is the epicenter of deep sea bottom trawling. In 2001, EU countries took approximately 60 percent of the high seas bottom trawl catch. The same year, Spain accounted for approximately two-thirds of the reported EU catch and 40 percent of the reported global catch in high seas bottom trawl fisheries.