EU

27
Sep
2019

For Immediate Release September 27 2019

Bordeaux, France: At the 41st Annual Meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), 11 countriesi and the European Union met to debate management measures for fisheries and discuss how best to protect deep-sea ecosystems on the high seas in the northwest Atlantic.

NAFO has closed 21 High Seas areas to bottom-fishing activities over the past 13 years in order to protect deep-sea ecosystems and biodiversity. These closures have encompassed the majority of the region’s seamounts—submarine mountains that are home to a great variety of life.

This year, the last remaining trawl fishery on seamounts in the NAFO area—the fishery for the splendid alphonsino on the Corner Rise seamount chain—has finally been closed after several years of contentious debate, but only following the near extirpation of the stock. As well, numerous areas where corals and sponges are known to occur along the continental shelf and slope in the area – the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap – remain open to bottom fishing, which may destroy these fragile, long-lived, habitat forming species. NAFO will review all closures in 2020 and will complete comprehensive assessments of fishing impacts by 2021.

“The good news is that the trawl fishery on the seamounts has been closed but it’s very disheartening to see yet another deep-sea species be essentially fished out”, says Susanna Fuller, Senior Projects Manager at Oceans North and an observer at this year’s NAFO meeting. “It is clear that NAFO’s 2006 commitment to sustainably manage deep sea fisheries has not been upheld.”

Additional measures adopted this week at NAFO, marking slow but continued progress in protecting deep-sea ecosystems and species, include an agreement to avoid scientific bottom trawl surveys in areas closed to commercial fishing to protect sensitive ecosystems; improvements in catch-data reporting protocols; and long-overdue measures to ensure that bycatch of deep-sea corals, sponges and other vulnerable species can be formally recorded. NAFO also improved protocols for recording bycatch of Greenland shark.

Disappointingly, several quota decisions were above science advice, including for redfish, witch flounder and white hake. Despite objections from some countries, NAFO also agreed to open the shrimp fishery on the Flemish Cap which has been closed since 2011, by allowing over 2,500 fishing days and no official catch limits.

“It is astounding that in this day in age, developed fishing nations would open a fishery at the first sign of recovery, essentially as a free-for-all,” says Fuller. “Shrimp have likely recovered as a result of overfishing cod and redfish, so we really are looking at single species and ecosystem mis-management.”

A number of countries, non-governmental organizations, and the fishing industry are also concerned over the ongoing oil and gas drilling permitted by Canada in areas that NAFO has closed to trawling to protect sensitive ecosystems. No scientific data was transmitted to NAFO regarding the 3 oil spills in 2019 that occurred adjacent to the NAFO area. Furthermore, Canada is currently conducting a regional assessment that may result in permits for up to 100 new oil wells— some of which will be in the NAFO regulatory area—but has not yet engaged formally with any of the countries who fish in the NAFO area.

The IPCC report on Oceans and the Cryosphere was released during the same week as the NAFO meetings. It predicts continued impacts on fisheries as the oceans warm and become more acidic.

“We have a global climate crisis and biodiversity crisis, both of which are affecting our oceans,” said Matthew Gianni, co-founder of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition. “While NAFO is at least trying to manage deep-sea fisheries to prevent further damage to deep-sea biodiversity on the high seas, Canada is opening up new areas to oil and gas exploration in these biodiversity hotspots at a time when the countries need to reduce, not increase, production of fossil fuels.”

For more information, please contact:

Sian Owen,
Coordinator, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition
deepseacoalition@gmail.com
+31 648 50 25 69

Matt Gianni
Political and Policy Advisor, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition
matthewgianni@gmail.com
+ 31 646 16 88 99

i The Contracting Parties (member countries) of NAFO are Canada, Cuba, Denmark (in respect of Faroe Islands and Greenland), France (in respect of St Pierre and Miquelon), Iceland, Japan, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine and United States plus the European Union.

Read the DSCC’s NAFO-related documents here.

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23
Sep
2019

To:

João Aguiar Machado
European Commission, Director-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

Anders Jessen,
European Commission, Law of the Sea and Regional Fisheries Organisations, DG-MARE

September 23, 2019

Re: Closing seamounts to bottom fisheries and unregulated fishing in the NAFO Regulatory Area

Dear Mr. Machado, Mr. Jessen,

As you know, the 41st Annual Meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) takes place this week in Bordeaux. One of the priority issues of concern to us is the protection of seamounts from the impacts of trawl fisheries in the NAFO Regulatory Area. The Scientific Council has recommended closure of the last remaining seamount fishery in the NAFO Regulatory Area – a fishery targeting alfonsino by a vessel flagged to an EU Member State. We urge the EU to maintain its ocean governance leadership and support the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) through closing all remaining unprotected seamounts at fishable depths in the NAFO Regulatory Area to bottom fishing.

NAFO first began closing seamounts to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) in 2006 in response to UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions committing states and RFMOs to protect seamounts from destructive fishing activities.[1] NAFO identified seamounts as ‘VME elements’ (i.e. areas likely to harbor VMEs) in 2008 and periodically adopted further closures of seamounts to bottom fisheries over the ensuing years, most recently in 2017 to complete the New England seamount chain protection measures. While NAFO has made considerable progress in protecting seamounts at fishable depths there remain seamounts at < 2000m depth that are unprotected (see below).

Moreover, the only remaining trawl fishery on seamounts in the NAFO Regulatory Area is conducted by a vessel flagged to an EU Member State targeting alfonsino on the Corner Rise Seamounts. The Scientific Council of NAFO, in its assessment of the fishery in 2018, stated that the stock status was “unknown”; that the stock was “unregulated”; and that the fishery “can produce significant adverse impacts (SAI) on VME communities, as per information provided by the Scientific Council in 2010 and further addressed by the Scientific Council in 2015”. This year the Scientific Council has advised closure of the fishery. In our view the fishery is not only in contravention of the commitments to protect VMEs that States have undertaken through the adoption of the UNGA resolutions, but it fits the definition of an IUU fishery.

In August 2020, the UNGA will begin a review of progress by States and RFMOs in the implementation of bottom fishing measures adopted in Sustainable Fisheries Resolutions 61/105 (2006), 64/72 (2009), 66/68 (2011) and 71/123 (2016). While NAFO will review all existing bottom fishing measures in 2020 and complete updated impact assessments in 2021, NAFO can make significant progress this year by closing the remaining seamounts at fishable depths to bottom fishing to protect VMEs. Not only would this demonstrate the continued commitment by the EU and other NAFO Contracting Parties to implement the UNGA resolutions in time for the 2020 review, it would also demonstrate NAFO’s commitment and capacity to deliver on key international biodiversity commitments related to conserving biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction in the context of the ongoing UNGA BBNJ negotiations, to the CBD marine Aichi targets, and to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 on oceans, in particular target 14.2 which commits States to “sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans” in time for the UN Oceans & SDG 14 Conference in June 2020.

We urge the European Union to support the closure of all remaining seamounts at fishable depths in the NAFO Regulatory Area to bottom fishing – the seamounts in the Corner Rise area and the seamounts on the slope of the Grand Banks which are not yet within existing VME closed areas. We also urge the European Union to agree to the closure of the splendid alfonsino fishery in the Corner Rise Seamount area.

[1] UNGA resolution 59/25 (2004), paragraph 66

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28
May
2019

The DSCC welcomes the call for a moratorium on deep-sea mining in international waters by the Long Distance Fleet Advisory Council (LDAC) of the European Union. In calling for a moratorium, the LDAC highlighted concerns by scientists, the fishing industry and environmental organizations over the potentially severe impacts on fisheries, fish and other species in the oceans and inevitable loss of marine biodiversity from deep-sea mining. The Executive Committee of the LDAC adopted the advice to the European Commission and EU Member States at its meeting in Poland last week and publicly released it today.

The International Seabed Authority, an intergovernmental organization established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, is in the process of developing regulations that would permit mining the international areas of the deep ocean seabed.

Matthew Gianni, co-founder of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, said “Fishing industry representatives and NGOs in Europe are jointly raising concern with EU member states and the international community over the prospect of deep-sea mining and its likely impacts on fisheries and the marine environment. Scientists have warned that biodiversity loss will be inevitable and likely permanent on human timescales if the International Seabed Authority begins issuing licenses to mine the deep ocean seabed for metals such as copper, nickel, cobalt and manganese.”

The LDAC recommended that no deep seabed mining in the international areas of the ocean seabed under the jurisdiction of the International Seabed Authority should be permitted until:

  • the risks to the marine environment are fully assessed and understood,
  • a clear case can be made deep-sea mining is necessary and not simply profitable for companies or countries that want to mine,
  • international commitments to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, strengthen the resilience of marine ecosystems, and initiatives to transition to circular economies, sustainable methods of consumption and production and related efforts as called for the in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda are recognized.

The LDAC further called on the European Commission and Member States to stop funding, facilitating or promoting the development of deep-sea mining and deep-sea mining technology.

Ann Dom, Deputy Director of Seas At Risk, said “We count on the EU member states to take to heart the call for a moratorium by the European Parliament and the fisheries sector, and to put it firmly on the agenda of the upcoming annual session of the International Seabed Authority”.

The LDAC endorsed a European Parliament resolution adopted in 2018 which also called for a moratorium on deep-sea mining and reform of the International Seabed Authority (ISA). In January of this year, echoing similar concerns, the UK House of Commons Environment Audit Committee released a report stating that deep-sea mining would have “catastrophic impacts on the seafloor” and that the ISA stands to benefit from revenues from issuing mining licenses which the Committee viewed as “a clear conflict of interest”.

John Tanzer, Leader, Oceans Practice, WWF International, said: “A moratorium on seabed mining – given its inherent risks and how little is known about life on the sea floor – is just plain common sense, and particularly in light of recent global biodiversity assessments showing the planet is suffering unprecedented species loss that will have profound impacts on nature and humanity at large”.

The Long Distance Fleet Advisory Council (LDAC) is an EU fisheries body representing stakeholders of both the fishing sector (including catching, processing and marketing sectors, and trade unions), and other groups of interest (environmental NGOs, consumers and civil society). Several DSCC member organizations, including Seas At Risk, WWF, Oceana, Bloom Association, are members of the LDAC.

Read the full press release

Cover image ©NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2015 Hohonu Moana

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22
Nov
2018

Source: Slow Food

Slow Food regrets that instead of setting sustainable catch limits for 19 deep-water stocks, the Agriculture and Fisheries Council withdrew six stocks from the quota, and agreed on the fishing opportunities for only 13 deep-sea stocks in the EU and international waters in the North-East Atlantic, for 2019 and 2020.

Continue reading Slow Food Worried about Newly Adopted Decisions on Marine Environments

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20
Nov
2018

Source: Undercurrent News

The EU Council has agreed on the total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for certain deep-sea stocks in the EU and international waters in the North-East Atlantic, for 2019 and 2020.

The fish stocks concerned are deep sea sharks, black scabbardfish, alfonsino, roundnose grenadier, and red seabream.

“In view of the vulnerability of deep-sea species to human activity, and in order to prevent their over-exploitation, the Council decided to raise the TACs for the two stocks and to reduce the TACs for ten stocks as proposed by the Commission.”

It said it had decided to make cuts to fishing opportunities to protect the maritime environment and help the industry in the longer term.

Continue reading here.

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14
Nov
2018

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
Author: Andrew Clayton

The deep sea is a mysterious world, pitch black and subject to extreme conditions. Life there is specially adapted to this environment, but also remarkably susceptible to human activities such as fishing.

Deep-sea fish tend to be slow-growing, late-maturing and long-lived. Because of these factors, stocks can be quick to collapse and slow to recover. Their sensitive and vulnerable nature makes ending over-exploitation of vital importance.

Continue reading Two Steps to Prevent Overfishing of Deep Sea Species in the EU

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21
Sep
2018

Source: Euronews
Author: Alice Cuddy

More than 150 scientists have called on EU leaders to end the “overfishing crisis” in the Mediterranean to prevent the collapse of the region’s fish stocks.

Experts from European countries including Italy, Spain, the UK and France signed a declaration by leading conservation group Oceana, which calls on the EU to reform the fisheries industry in what is considered the world’s most overfished sea.

Continue reading Scientists across Europe urge EU to end Mediterranean ‘overfishing crisis’

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18
Sep
2018

Source: WWF

In a letter submitted today to Karmenu Vella and Cecilia Malmström, 40 environmental organisations call for the European Commission to uphold the current State Aid Guidelines to the fisheries sector and prevent subsidies for the construction of new fishing vessels in the EU’s outermost regions.

The European Commission is currently planning a revision of the State Aid Guidelines that will grant subsidies to the fishing sector for the construction of new vessels. The current ban against these types of subsidies has existed in the EU since 2004 and was maintained during the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in 2014 due to the detrimental effects additional vessels have on the marine environment.

Continue reading 40 organisations call on Commissioners Vella and Malmström to uphold subsidies ban on new fishing vessels

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29
Jun
2018

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) which represents over 80 non-governmental organizations concerned with protecting the deep sea, called on the European Union to protect deepwater corals, instead of protecting its fleet’s fishing activities on deep sea vulnerable marine ecosystems.

Continue reading Conservation Groups Call On European Union to Protect Deepwater Corals Rather Than Its Fishing Fleet

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29
Jun
2018

Source: Europa Press

La Coalición para la Protección de las Aguas Profundas (DSCC, por sus siglas en inglés) que aglutina a más de 80 ONG ha solicitado a la Unión Europea que proteja los corales de aguas profundas ante las actividades pesqueras de su flota en los ecosistemas profundos vulnerables.

Continue reading ONG piden a la UE que proteja frente a su flota pesquera los corales de aguas profundas en el Índico

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