Latest News

18
Oct
2019

Source: Phys.org
Author: Kim Fulton-Bennett

In the dark depths of the ocean, pretty much the only sources of light are the animals that live there. Whether flashing, glimmering, or emitting glowing liquids, many deep-sea animals are able to produce light (bioluminesce). MBARI researchers recently found that animals that live on the seafloor are much less likely to produce light than those swimming or drifting in the “midwater.”

Continue reading Glowing to the bottom

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

17
Oct
2019

Source: The Scientist
Author: Catharine Offord

Researchers have discovered high levels of biodiversity in deep-sea plains in the Eastern Pacific Ocean—an area that’s already been divvied up by mining companies for commercial exploration. The study, published today (October 17) in Current Biology, describes several new taxa of brittle stars, relatives of sea stars, and warns that industrial exploitation of the region could lead to serious declines in these and many other poorly documented species.

Continue reading Proposed Deep-Sea Mining Zone Harbors Previously Unknown Species

17
Oct
2019

Source: CNN

A team of researchers stumbled upon a “whale fall,” a carcass of a baleen whale, during a live-streamed deep-sea dive. Incredible video shows a wide variety of sea creatures feasting on it.

Watch the video here.

9
Oct
2019

Source: chinadialogue ocean
Author: Jessica Aldred

Prof Mat Upton is a medical microbiologist and Dr Kerry Howell is a deep-sea marine ecologist. At the University of Plymouth they have discovered antimicrobial properties in bacteria that live in a species of deep-sea sponge ­– a potential breakthrough in the fight against antibiotic-resistant superbugs. But they warn that such potential could be lost in the drive to exploit the ocean floor for minerals.

Continue reading Deep sea sponges may hold key to antibiotic resistance

1
Oct
2019

Source: New Internationalist
Author: Diva Amon

I’m on a ship 1,600 kilometres away from the nearest landmass. It has taken us five days to get from California to the middle of the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Our team sends a remotely operated vehicle 4.5 kilometres down to a flat abyssal plain that has never been explored by humans before.

Continue reading Deep-sea dilemma

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.

23
Sep
2019

Source: Scoop.nz
Author: Kiwis Against Seabed Mining

Wellington – 23 September 2019 — Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM) and Greenpeace are in the Court of Appeal in Wellington this week, defending last year’s High Court ruling that quashed Trans-Tasman Resources’ (TTR) consent to mine the South Taranaki Bight seabed.

TTR is appealing the 2018 High Court decision that removed its consent to mine a 66 square kilometre area of the Bight for ironsands, which would involve digging up 50 million tonnes of the seabed a year for 35 years.

In granting its original consent, the Environmental Protection Agency set out 109 conditions, some of which amounted to “adaptive management” which KASM, Greenpeace and other parties argued to the High Court was unlawful, and Justice Churchman agreed.

This week the Court will hear TTR argue for mining to go ahead, and cross-appeals from KASM and Greenpeace, with the other parties, on a number of other issues the High Court decision rejected (see below).

Cindy Baxter, Chairperson of KASM, says this case is of utmost importance for preventing future seabed mining in New Zealand.

“This is a precedent-setting case, and it’s important to get the law as strong as possible, in order to protect our oceans from damage by future seabed miners. We cannot stress the importance of this case enough, in terms of the impact this destructive, untested industry could have on our ocean environment,” she said.

Jessica Desmond, campaigner at Greenpeace says it’s unacceptable the unique biodiversity of this region should be put at further risk from seabed mining.

“The South Taranaki Bight is home to Aotearoa’s own population of blue whales, the critically endangered Māui dolphin, blue penguins and other ocean taonga. These species are already under a multitude of threats from destructive fishing techniques, pollution and climate change, and this case is critical in protecting their home from damage by seabed mining.”

The case will be heard over three days between 24-26 September, and the two environmental organisations will be working alongside a range of other groups, including local iwi Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui, the trustees of Te Kaahui Rauru, Forest & Bird, the Taranaki-Whanganui Conservation Board, Te Ohu Kai Moana and a number of other fisheries interests.

The issues the two groups are cross-appealing include:

  • the application of the precautionary principle and international law;
  • the conduct of the hearing itself – including how the chairman of the EPA committee used his casting vote since there were four members, two of whom voted against granting consent;
  • the failure of the EPA to take economic costs as well as benefits into account;
  • the way the EPA dealt with issues around the effects of seabed mining crossing the boundary into the coastal marine area (within 12 miles from land); and
  • the failure to differentiate between a bond and public liability insurance

Timeline

Nov 2013: TTR applies to the EPA for a marine discharge consent for seabed mining
Mar 2014: EPA receives record number of submissions against any application in its history
Jun 2014: EPA refuses consent.
++++
Aug 2016: TTR re-applies for a marine discharge consent. Same area, same information.
Feb 2017: EPA hearings begin. Again, record submissions , again(13,700 against).
Aug 2017: EPA grants TTR consent
Apr 2018: KASM, Greenpeace et al appeal heard in the High Court
Aug 2018: High Court quashes TTR’s consent
Sep 2019: TTR takes case to Court of Appeal, other parties cross-appeal

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