Fisheries

19
Feb
2020

Source: Greenpeace NZ
Author: Jessica Desmond

As a result of the New Zealand government’s lobbying efforts on behalf of the fishing industry, a regional fisheries meeting this week has only made small steps toward increasing protection of the ocean from bottom trawling, and a Talley’s vessel has been taken off an international blacklist.

The South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) concluded its meeting in Vanuatu last night with disappointing results for deep sea life, largely as a result of New Zealand’s efforts to protect its destructive bottom trawling industry.

One of the ways SPRFMO protects deep sea corals is with the so-called “move on rule” where  fishing vessels must move to a new fishing area if they exceed the amount of destruction allowed to a particular species. The weight limit was previously set at 250kg for stony corals, but recent research showed that 250kg in the trawl net meant up to 85 tonnes of coral destroyed on the seabed.

In response to the science, the EU proposed reducing the limit to 25kg in the net, which would have significantly reduced the damage to deep sea corals. The proposal was supported by the US and Australia, but was vehemently opposed by New Zealand fishing industry lobbyists the High Seas Fishery Group, led by Talley’s, and the New Zealand government. The resulting weak compromise sets a new 80kg limit, allowing as much 33 tonnes to be destroyed on the seabed in a single trawl.

“The New Zealand bottom trawling industry is stuck in a  mindset of dragging up as much profit from the deep sea as it can get, no matter what the cost to our ocean. Other countries are trying to move on from this scorched-earth approach to fishing, but the New Zealand government seems determined to let our industrial fleets continue their rampage,” said Jessica Desmond of Greenpeace New Zealand, at the meeting as part of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition delegation.

Talley’s ship taken off blacklist

The New Zealand government also insisted that a Talley’s fishing vessel, the Amaltal Apollo, be taken off the SPRFMO draft IUU (Illegal, unregulated, unreported) blacklist, despite trawling 14 times in an area closed to fishing in May 2018. The vessel was allowed to continue fishing in international waters for the rest of the 2018 fishing season. While the government is prosecuting the company and the skipper, the case still hasn’t been through the courts and MPI is still letting the vessel fish in New Zealand’s seas in the meantime.

“As a Kiwi I’m appalled. The New Zealand government has basically just gone to bat for Talley’s, despite its pending prosecution, and managed to get the Amaltal Apollo removed from the draft blacklist, even though nothing has changed since last year when it was blacklisted.  The ship is still fishing – just not on the high seas – and we call on the government to refuse it a high seas permit in this year’s fishing season,” said Jessica Desmond.

“It’s sad to say, but the New Zealand government has been captured by the deep-water fishing industry. It is acting as their advocate rather than as a government.”

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19
Nov
2019

Source: Stuff.co.nz
Author: Amber-Leigh Woolf

Commercial fishers are “bulldozing” ocean floors, says Greenpeace.

Its calculations show that in the 2017-2018 fishing season, New Zealand commercial fishing vessels destroyed up to 3000 tonnes of coral and other vulnerable species through bottom trawling.  

Continue reading Fishing vessels ‘bulldozing’ oceans, destroying 3000 tonnes of coral in one year

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18
Nov
2019

Source: Business Newswire

Today, NOAA Fisheries issued final regulations to protect more than 140,000 square miles of seafloor habitat off the U.S. West Coast from destructive bottom trawling. Places protected include corals, sponges, rocky reefs and other important areas for marine life and ocean ecosystems. These safeguards for the living seafloor are in response to a vote by the Pacific Fishery Management Council in April 2018 — following years of scientific input and advocacy by Oceana — to more than double the spatial extent of seafloor protections off California, Oregon and Washington from the impacts of bottom trawl fishing gear. Once the new regulations take effect on January 1, 2020, 90 percent of the seafloor in U.S. ocean waters off the West Coast will be off limits to bottom trawling.

Continue reading here.

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13
Nov
2019

Source: SciTechDaily

A collaboration between researchers at the University of Hawai‘i (UH) at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Hawai‘i Pacific University (HPU) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) revealed for the first time growth rates of deep-sea coral communities and the pattern of colonization by various species.

Continue reading Growth Rates of Deep-Sea Coral Communities Revealed for the First Time

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17
Oct
2019

Source: Mashable
Author: Mark Kaufman

Dean Grubbs thinks great white sharks are boring.

The veteran shark scientist, who has researched different shark species for 30 years, is vastly more intrigued by the little-seen dominant predator of the deep, dark, tropical and temperate oceans: the sixgill shark (most sharks have five gills).

Continue reading Most dominant shark of the deep sea tagged at depth for the first time

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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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19
Sep
2019

Source: Phys.org
Author: Krystle Anderson

The deep, cold waters off the rocky coast of Point Sur, California, are home to an unexpected community of organisms that most people associate with tropical settings—corals. Scientist Charlie Boch and his colleagues recently compared different methods to restore deep-sea coral by transplanting live coral fragments and measuring their survival rates. The experiment was conducted on Sur Ridge, 60 kilometers (37 miles) offshore and 800 to 1,300 meters (2,624 to 4,265 feet) below the ocean’s surface.

Continue reading Learning how to restore deep-sea coral communities

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