Call to Action

The DSCC remains focused on achieving two overarching goals: to substantially reduce the greatest threats to life in the deep seas; and to safeguard the long-term health, integrity, and resilience of deep-sea ecosystems.

Its overarching objective is to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems and conserve deep-sea species, recognizing important precedents set for wider ocean conservation.


Our priority focus on fisheries in 2016 is twofold:

1. UN review of implementation of deep-sea resolutions

In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will - for the fourth time - review the implementation of its deep-sea resolutions. Previous reviews in 2006, 2009 and 2011 have found serious shortcomings. In spite of this, a number of nations continued to authorize their vessels to deep-sea fish on the high seas. It is vital that this review results in success.

Pending the results of the DSCC review document, due for publication in May 2016, the DSCC is calling for:

  • regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and states to implement the UNGA resolutions. Specifically, to:
    • effectively implement the precautionary approach in relation to area closures
    • conduct legitimate environmental impact assessments
    • ensure sustainability of deep-sea fish species through improved management of the exploitation of target species and protection of non-target species
    • cooperate in the establishment of permanently protected ecologically representative marine protected areas and marine reserve networks.
  • a regular independent review of the performance of individual regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs), assessed by the UNGA
  • additional language in the 2016 UNGA resolution regarding global accountability of states and RFMOs that manage deep-sea fisheries on the high seas.

2. Adoption of a new European Union regulation for deep-sea fisheries in the Northeast Atlantic

We call on EU decision makers to ensure that a new European Union regulation for deep-sea fisheries in the Northeast Atlantic, currently under debate within the EU Council of Ministers, contains the following key elements:

  • a phase-out of deep-sea bottom trawling and bottom gillnet fishing
  • a requirement for prior environmental impact assessments for all deep-sea bottom fisheries, including deep-sea fishing in existing fishing areas as well as new fishing areas, before allowing any deep-sea fishing to take place; and that the impact assessments be conducted consistent with the globally agreed standards established by the UNGA and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries in the High Seas
  • a requirement that the catch of all deep-sea species is regulated and that fishing only be permitted if the catch, including any bycatch or catch of non-target species, can be limited to sustainable levels based on a clear scientific understanding of the status of the species and the impact of fishing
  • a requirement that deep-sea fisheries are managed to prevent the catch of vulnerable, threatened or endangered species such as deep-sea sharks
  • means of ensuring that all deep-sea fisheries are managed to prevent adverse impacts on vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems such as deep-sea coral, sponge and seamount ecosystems, including requiring that areas are closed to deep-sea bottom fishing where vulnerable marine ecosystems are known or likely to occur - unless conservation and management measures are in place that will prevent significant adverse impacts on such ecosystems.

Deep-seabed mining

Our priority focus on deep-seabed mining in 2016 is twofold:

1. Strong conservation-oriented regulations for deep-seabed mining

We call on the International Seabed Authority to oversee the drafting and adoption of strong conservation-oriented regulations for deep-seabed mining in international waters. These should include requirements for:

  • environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and site specific environmental management plans (EMPs)
  • strategic environment management plans
  • funding mechanisms (essential to monitoring, control and compliance) including the terms of reference for liability and sustainability funds, defining "serious harm" to the marine environment and operationalizing an adaptive management approach.

2. Robust proposals for environment management plan for Mid-Atlantic Ridge and Atlantic Basin

We call on the relevant governments to draft a scientifically robust proposal for a strategic environment management plan for the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and Atlantic Basin for delivery to the International Seabed Authority.