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22
Sep
2017

The 39th Annual Meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) closed today, in Montreal. The Ecology Action Centre attended as an observer to the meeting of 12 Contracting Parties who collectively manage fisheries on the high seas, outside the 200-mile limit in the North Atlantic. This was NAFO’s first meeting under an amended Convention which came into force in May 2017. The amended Convention increases obligations to rebuild depleted fish stocks and manage according to an ecosystem approach, which means considering not only target species, but also on non-target species, seafloor habitats, and the ecosystems these species are a part of when making management decisions. Under the United Nations General Assembly Resolutions adopted over the last decade, high seas fishing nations and regional organizations are obligated to protect vulnerable ecosystems from fishing activity or not allow fishing to occur.

“We are pleased that NAFO agreed this year to extend further protections to the New England Seamount chain, creating a link to the closures within US waters,” says Susanna Fuller, Senior Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre. “But they could have closed additional seamounts as advised by scientists in 2014, particularly those on the Corner Rise. Rather than finish the job, NAFO took incremental steps.”

© Pierre Gleizes / Greenpeace

The greatest threat to vulnerable marine areas, including the areas already closed to bottom fishing to protect corals, sponges and seamounts, is the continued activity of research trawls within these areas. Since the closures have been put in place, over 120,000kg of sponges have been destroyed as a result of research.

“It is critical that as managers move to protect areas from bottom fishing, that non-destructive surveys are put in place,” says Fuller. “It is just not acceptable to continue this type of science in areas where we know recovery of these species is on the order of decades to centuries.”

While several fisheries within the NAFO area remain under moratorium – 3NO cod on the Grand Banks, and 3LNO shrimp – some fisheries have recovered and have been opened in the past decade.

“Stocks like 3M cod and redfish, fished on the Flemish Cap, have been re-opened, however in both cases this year we saw a failure of NAFO to follow precautionary scientific advice, opting for quotas above what was recommended by science,” says Katie Schleit, also a Senior Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre. “And again, NAFO failed to regulate a deep sea fishery for Splendid Alphonsino – a vulnerable seamount fishery that has never recovered from over fishing in the 1980’s.”

After two years of analysis, an agreement was reached on a management strategy for Greenland Halibut and additional assessments were called for in the coming year, including 3M cod.

NAFO took steps at this meeting to increase transparency with stakeholders, which included inviting observers to submit to the organizations Performance Review which will take place later this year and committing to data sharing between NAFO and oil and gas regulators within the Canadian boundaries.

“Next year, we’ll be looking to NAFO to make concrete steps to conserve populations through an ecosystem approach, in line with the amended Convention,” explains Schleit. “This will include taking action to protect vulnerable species like thorny skates and Greenland sharks”.

15
Sep
2017

High seas fishing nations, members of the North Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), will hold their annual meeting this week, September 18-22 in Montreal, Canada. The Ecology Action Centre, a member of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition and the Shark League for the Atlantic and Mediterranean, will participate as an environmental non-government observer. NAFO manages fishing of shared populations on the high seas – outside of Canada’s 200-mile limit. A series of United Nations Resolutions aimed at sustainability over the past decade have committed countries to vastly improve fishery management by bodies like NAFO.

Continue reading Conservationists Call for Greater Protections for North Atlantic Ecosystem at Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization Annual Meeting

28
Aug
2017

Source: EFE Verde
Author: Lourdes Uquillas

La Alianza para el Alta Mar (DSCC) ha pedido a la Autoridad Internacional de los Fondos Marinos el establecimiento de un Comité de medio ambiente para asegurar la protección efectiva de la biodiversidad frente a la creciente demanda de licencias para la exploración minera más allá de las jurisdicciones nacionales.

Continue reading Alianza para la protección de los océanos pide evitar la exploración minera

24
Aug
2017

Source: International Business Times
Author: Michelle TaylorChris Roterman

The mysterious habitats of the deep are being destroyed before we know anything about them.

Given its vastness and apparent remoteness from our everyday lives, the deep sea has been widely considered protected from the impacts of the human era, known as the Anthropocene. This, unfortunately, is not true.

Continue reading How trawling is destroying our deep-sea coral gardens and the planet’s oldest living creatures

23
Aug
2017

Source: Journal de l’environnement

L’Autorité internationale des fonds marins a conclu sa conférence annuelle, le 18 août à Kingston (Jamaïque), avec de fortes attentes des ONG. Son fonctionnement opaque favorise les projets d’exploration minière au détriment de la protection des écosystèmes.

Alors que les fonds marins intéressent de plus en plus d’entreprises en quête de nouvelles matières premières, les licences d’exploitation délivrées par l’Autorité internationale des fonds marins (ISA en anglais) se multiplient à l’extérieur des zones économiques exclusives. «La 28e licence vient d’être accordée à une entreprise polonaise pour explorer une zone qui se trouve au large du Portugal», explique au JDLE Matthew Gianni, cofondateur de la Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC)[1], qui a participé à la conférence de Kingston.

EXPLOITATIONS EN VUE EN 2020

Aucune licence d’exploitation n’a encore été délivrée par l’ISA mais celle-ci a lancé les travaux préparant le socle règlementaire qui l’encadrera au plus tard en 2020. Deuxième évolution: l’Autorité a débuté, il y a deux ans, la réforme de son mode de fonctionnement qui date de 1996. Pour les ONG, l’heure est donc à la mobilisation. Avec un enjeu principal: accroître la transparence de son processus décisionnel.

INFORMATIONS SECRÈTES

«Les contractants avec l’ISA doivent remettre chaque année un rapport d’évaluation qui est étudié par la commission légale et technique, un organisme composé de 30 personnes nommées par les Etats parties. Mais aucune information ne filtre. Même les Etats membres de l’ISA n’y ont pas accès», observe le représentant de la DSCC.

La coalition demande en particulier la création d’une commission environnementale, chargée d’évaluer et d’informer sur les impacts de l’extraction minière dans les grands fonds, alors que seuls trois biologistes spécialistes des fonds marins sont aujourd’hui chargés d’évaluer les épais rapports remis par les exploitants.

La seule évolution -minime- qui a été actée par la conférence de Kingston réside dans la tenue de deux conférences annuelles de l’ISA en 2018 et 2019 au lieu d’une seule. Le prochain rendez-vous devrait avoir lieu en mars.

DOMMAGES À PRÉCISER

A une profondeur comprise entre 4.000 et 5.000 mètres, les fonds marins abritent en particulier des nodules polymétalliques, riches en cuivre, cobalt et nickel, qui se forment sous l’effet des courants d’eau froide, plus riches en oxygène. Peu documentés dans la littérature scientifique, les dommages sur l’environnement de l’exploitation de ces ressources s’avèrent pourtant majeurs: destruction des habitats et de la faune marine, libération de sédiments et de produits toxiques, etc. «Si l’exploitation est autorisée, la perte de biodiversité sera inévitable, et pour de nombreuses années, car la nature met très longtemps à reprendre ses droits à ces profondeurs», met en garde Matthew Gianni.

Continuez

21
Aug
2017

Source: industriaspesqueras.com

La Alianza para el Alta Mar (DSCC) ha realizado un llamamiento a las partes de la Autoridad Internacional de los Fondos Marinos (ISA por sus siglas en inglés) a “abrir las puertas, dar transparencia a la integralidad de su trabajo y a establecer un comité de Medio Ambiente” con el objetivo de asegurar una protección efectiva del medio marino frente a la creciente demanda de exploración de los fondos en las zonas más allá de las jurisdicciones nacionales.

Fue en la última reunión anual de la ISA, encuentro en el que se analizaron los resultados de una evaluación de dos años sobre el propio organismo, a fin de reformar su estructura y sus métodos de trabajo para responder al desafío de gestionar los impactos de la extracción minera industrial a través de amplias zonas de los fondos oceánicos, y asegurar que cumple su responsabilidad de actuar en el interés común de la toda la humanidad.

La Alianza reconoce que se han hecho progresos en términos de transparencia, en particular que “la información no-confidencial, como la relacionada con la protección y preservación del medio marino deberá ser compartida de forma amplia y fácilmente asequible. También “anima” a la Comisión Legal y Técnica de la ISA a celebrar más reuniones abiertas. Sin embargo se queda “corto” en concretar, y “fracasa” en establecer un comité de Medio Ambiente que aseguraría la transparencia y respondería a las numerosas incertidumbres científicas alrededor de los impactos potenciales de la minería en los ecosistemas profundos.

Continúe

18
Aug
2017
Matthew Gianni delivers an intervention on behalf of the DSCC © IISD/ENB | Francis Dejon

Speaking at the August 2017 annual meeting of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) called on state parties to open closed doors, bring transparency to the heart of its work and to put into place an Environment Committee to address the obligation of the ISA under international law to “ensure effective protection” of the marine environment in the face of increasing demand to explore the seabed in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

The meeting today concluded a two-year review to assesses how the ISA needs to adapt its structure and working methods to meet the challenges of managing the impacts of industrial mining across wide areas of the deep ocean floor, while ensuring it fulfills its responsibility to act in the common interest of all humankind.

While some progress was made on transparency, in particular the “affirmation” that “non-confidential information, such as that relating to the protection and preservation of the marine environment should be shared widely and be readily accessible” and “encouraging’ the ISA’s Legal and Technical Commission to hold more open meetings, it fell short on specifics including the failure to establish an environmental committee that would ensure transparency and address the many scientific uncertainties surrounding potential impacts of mining on deep-sea ecosystems.

The urgent need for an Environmental Committee was highlighted when the DSCC brought to the attention of the ISA their approval of a claim by Poland that was in fact in an area in the mid-Atlantic Ridge which has been tagged by the Biodiversity Convention as an Ecologically or Biologically Significant Area (EBSA).

Duncan Currie, legal advisor and member of the DSCC said: “It is clear that the current structure is not working. An Environmental Committee to advise the Authority must be established in 2018 regardless of whether a review is scheduled or not, if the ISA is to function as a modern and responsible organization.”

Many governments and company contractors are already exploring for minerals in the deep sea, under exploratory licenses issued by the ISA. During the meeting, the ISA agreed for the first time to a target date of 2020 to finalize the regulations to govern commercial deep-sea mining in the international area of the seabed. If the ISA meets this target, large-scale commercial mining of the deep seabed could begin in international waters within a few years, assuming market conditions are favorable.

“A number of deep-sea scientists have recently concluded that biodiversity loss will be unavoidable if deep-sea mining is permitted to occur and that this loss is likely to be permanent on human timescales given the very slow natural rates of recovery of affected species and ecosystems in the deep-sea.” said Matthew Gianni, co-founder of the DSCC “The international community needs to ensure that it doesn’t open up a whole new frontier of environmental degradation and possible extinction events in an area of the planet that has largely been untouched by human activity until now.” Gianni added.

©Photos by IISD/ENB | Francis Dejon