The DSCC is calling for:
- High seas fishing nations and regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) to effectively conserve and protect deep-sea species and ecosystems by implementing the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions on deep-sea fisheries, specifically, to:
- Effectively implement the precautionary approach and protect all areas from the harmful impacts of deep-sea fishing, in particular bottom trawl fishing, where vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems are known or likely to occur;
- Conduct legitimate environmental impact assessments;
- Ensure that the catch of deep-sea species is sustainable and that the bycatch of non-target species is eliminated, in particular the bycatch of vulnerable, threatened or endangered species.
- Regular review by the UN General Assembly of the performance of individual RFMOs in the implementation of the UN resolutions.
- Improvement in the next UNGA resolution regarding global accountability of States and RFMOs that manage deep-sea fisheries on high seas.
- Implementation of the European Union deep-sea fisheries regulation adopted in 2016, in particular that:
- The procedures for annual identification of vulnerable marine ecosystem (VME) areas are based on the best scientific information possible, that the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) makes clear recommendations for area closures on the basis of the precautionary approach, and that the area closures are effectively and expeditiously adopted by the Commission;
- No authorizations or reauthorizations are issued by EU Member States for fishing using bottom trawl gear below 800 meters depth;
- Appropriate mechanisms are in place for monitoring, control and surveillance to ensure compliance with the prohibition of bottom trawling below 800 meters and the bottom fisheries area closures to protect VMEs;
- The procedure for mapping the bottom fisheries footprint is as strictly defined as possible and completed by 13 January 2018 as required under Article 7.2 of the regulation;
- Any environmental impact assessments (EIAs) that are done for fishing in new areas outside of the footprint are conducted according to high standards/best practice and properly reviewed and that deep-sea bottom fishing is not permitted in new fishing areas unless the EIA clearly demonstrates that damage to deep-sea ecosystems will not occur;
- Member states establish observer programs as required and that these programs collect sufficient data on a timely basis to allow for the proper evaluation of the programs by 1 January 2018 as required under Article 16.3 of the regulation;
- All deadlines established under the regulation for both the Commission and member states are adhered to.
Deep seabed mining
The DSCC position is that the production and consumption of mineral resources should be based on sustainability, reuse, improved product design and recycling of materials rather than exploring for new sources of minerals in the deep-sea.
However, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) is in the process of developing environmental regulations for deep seabed mining. In this context, the DSCC is calling on States to ensure that any regulations adopted by the ISA be sufficiently robust to prevent harm to the marine environment, and include the following provisions and mechanisms, amongst others:
- EIAs and site-specific environmental management plans (EMPs);
- Strategic / regionwide EMPs;
- Sufficient funding mechanisms necessary for monitoring, control and compliance, and liability and sustainability funds;
- Transparent working methods, in particular to establish:
- An environmental and/or scientific committee of the ISA;
- Procedures and mechanisms for open access to information and public review, particularly regarding the information generated by contractors and the work of the Legal and Technical Commission (LTC);
- Mechanisms for independent scientific review of the work of the ISA (e.g. review of the quality of environmental baseline data, EIAs, etc.);
- A revision of the nomination/voting process for membership of the LTC;
- Mechanisms to provide for effective independent and transparent monitoring and control over the activities of contractors and compliance with the exploration and exploitation regulations; and
- Establish and actively manage strategic/regional environment management plans.
For a more detailed picture of the specific recommendations put forward to the latest meeting of the ISA, in February 2019, read the interventions made by the DSCC at the 25th Annual Session of the Council of the ISA. Also, see the DSCC side event presentations at the 25th session of the International Seabed Authority in 2019, as well as the interventions made by the DSCC at the previous July 2018 Session of the Council and Assembly of the ISA.