20 September, 2021


Amsterdam: September 20, 2021

 The Annual Meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) opens today. The Deep Sea Conservation is calling on the member countries of NAFO to agree to close seamounts and all areas identified by the Scientific Council of NAFO such as deepwater coral and sponge ecosystems to bottom trawling. 

NAFO is responsible for managing bottom fisheries on the high seas of the Northwest Atlantic.  This year, scientists have advised that all seamounts and related ‘underwater features’ within the NAFO Convention Area be closed to bottom fishing. Scientists have also completed a review of existing fisheries closures to assess whether they are adequate to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems, including deep-sea habitat-forming species such as sponges and corals. 

“Following initial progress in the previous decade,  NAFO has since dragged its feet on implementing scientific advice on protecting deep-sea habitats.”

Matthew Gianni, Policy Advisor to the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, an observer to NAFO. 

All NAFO member countries have signed up to repeated global commitments adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, beginning in 2006, to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems on the high seas from the harmful impacts of bottom fishing, in particular bottom trawling. 

“Given the continued ringing of alarm bells on the state of the world’s biodiversity, it is imperative that countries who fish on the high seas live up to their UN commitments to make sure that biodiversity is protected and our ocean can continue to be resilient and support healthy fisheries,” says Gianni. “There is absolutely no reason to continue destroying species and habitats that may take hundreds or thousands of years to recover”. 

The DSCC is expecting Contracting Parties to NAFO to agree to all recommended additions to closed areas, a full closure of all seamounts and related features, further conservation measures for Greenland Shark, and adherence to science advice for all regulated fisheries. 

The NAFO meeting ends on September 24th. The Member countries (Contracting Parties) are Canada, Cuba, Denmark (in respect of the Faroe Islands and Greenland), the European Union,  France (in respect of St. Pierre et Miquelon), Iceland, Japan, Norway, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States.

29 September, 2020

Author: Andrea Vance

Vast fishing nets have hauled up 29 species of delicate coral from the still, dark depths of New Zealand’s oceans.

And conservationists are warning that the Government has abandoned protection of the sea bed in favour of expanding bottom trawling.

Continue reading Trawl gear damages fragile coral reefs, so why is the Government sanctioning more hauls?

19 February, 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.”