The Main Players

The key actors in this arena include the following:

  1. Nations that authorize or permit their flagged vessels to engage in deep-sea fisheries on the high seas, including Australia, Cook Islands, Cuba, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, South Korea and Spain. The main countries that authorize their vessels to bottom-trawl fish on seamounts and other so-called underwater features (eg. banks, ridges, rises) are New Zealand, Cook Islands, Japan and Spain. These areas are generally high in biodiversity due to the presence of habitat-forming species such as cold-water corals and deep sea sponges which are particularly vulnerable to deep sea bottom trawling.
  2. The regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) that manage deep-sea fisheries on the high seas are the following:
    • North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC)
    • Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO)
    • South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO)
    • General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)
    • North Pacific Fisheries Commission (NPFC)
    • South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO)
    • South Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA)
    • Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
  3. United Nations fora, in particular:
    • the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which adopts resolutions on sustainable fisheries, oceans and the law of the sea on an annual basis. The UNGA has adopted a series of resolutions committing states, both individually and through RFMOs, to protect deep sea ecosystems on the high seas from the harmful impacts of deep sea fisheries and holds periodic reviews of implementation of these resolutions (2006, 2009, 2011, 2016), with the next one scheduled in 2020.
    • the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), whose Conference of Parties sets the agenda for key biodiversity protection and management issues through its protected areas and marine and coastal biodiversity programs of work and associated targets, as well as its focus on Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs).
    • The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), including its Committee on Fisheries (COFI), is an intergovernmental forum where major international fisheries and aquaculture issues are examined and recommendations are addressed by a range of states and stakeholders. The FAO also serves as a forum for the negotiation of international agreements on fisheries, such as the International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries in the High Seas.
  4. The European Union, in the context of adopting and implementing legislation to manage the region’s deep-sea fleets and fisheries – in particular the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council of Ministers.
  5. The deep-sea fishing industry.
  6. Scientists around the world conducting research on deep sea species and ecosystems, as well as the impacts of fishing and other human activities in the deep sea.
  7. Civil society, including the DSCC, representing over 80 organizations worldwide, continues to provide a platform for civil society, representing more than 70 organizations worldwide, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), fish-workers’ groups and law and policy institutes. We work in close cooperation with major national and international players on high seas conservation, serving largely as the advocacy or “activist” arm of the community.