Latest News

20
Oct
2005

There is growing concern amongst scientists about the need to take urgent action to protect deep sea biodiversity – fish stocks as well as habitat. The International Council on the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has prepared a report calling for “a complete overhaul of deep-sea fisheries.” (1) According to a 17 October ICES press release about the report’s launch (2), “scientists will recommend that all existing deep-sea fisheries should be cutback to low levels until they can demonstrate that they are sustainable. They will advise zero catch of depleted deep-sea sharks, and they will recommend that no new fisheries for deep-sea fish should be allowed until it can be demonstrated that they are capable of being sustainable.”

Continue reading Scientists Speak Out: Action Urgently Needed in the Deep Seas

14
Oct
2005

Records of Lophelia pertusa from inshore UK waters go back to Victorian times when this deep sea coral was described in fishermen’s reports. In the 1900s a fine specimen reached Glasgow University’s Hunterian Museum from a long-line fisherman operating in the Minch and the Sea of the Hebrides to the west of Scotland. In the late 1960s a dredger turned up dead coral east of Mingulay, and John Wilson saw Lophelia colonies on a seabed ridge during pioneering manned submersible dives in 1970. In 1999 David Long, of the British Geological Survey (BGS), and Murray Roberts, of the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS) began to wonder whether there were still live Lophelia reefs in the Minch.

Continue reading The Lophelia reefs of the Minch

11
Oct
2005

A science tour event organized by the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) together with Iceland Nature Conservation Association, and attended by key people from Iceland’s government, has initiated a debate in Iceland over the country’s opposition to an interim suspension on high seas bottom trawling (1). Dr. Monica Verbeek, the DSCC’s European Coordinator and Dr. Alex Rogers of the British Antarctic Survey, one of the world’s leading seamount experts, presented the arguments for protecting the biodiversity of the high seas to representatives from Iceland’s Foreign, Fisheries and Environment Ministries, scientists from Iceland’s Marine Research Institute and non-governmental organisations.

Continue reading DSCC engages Iceland in debate on temporary halt to high seas bottom trawling

30
Sep
2005

In Paris this week, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) called on France to support a UN General Assembly resolution as France’s friends of the ocean gathered at the Oceanographic Institute for the ‘Deep Trouble’ conference (‘Au fond, il y a un problème’) to discuss high seas bottom trawling. The conference (1) was attended by around 200 people, among them scientists, undersea explorers, environmentalists writers, journalists and representatives from non-governmental organisations.

Continue reading DSCC calls on France to support a moratorium

27
Sep
2005

She holds the depth record for solo diving to 1000 metres. She has lived underwater for two weeks as head of a team of women aquanauts. She has spent a total of over 6,000 hours under water. Today, renowned US oceanographer and environmentalist, Dr. Sylvia Earle is one of over a thousand scientists calling for urgent action to protect the fragile habitats and life of the deep oceans. Earle: “Around the world, scientists are really now, just now, in the last few years beginning to be aware that there is a problem in the high seas. We now know by looking at images that cameras lowered into the deep sea are bringing back, and from observations from submersibles, that the destruction is rather equivalent to taking a bulldozer to a forest – in order to catch a few squirrels you bulldoze the entire system.” Dr. Earle is referring to one of the world’s most destructive fishing practices – deep sea bottom trawling.

Continue reading Why we shouldn’t eat the dinosaurs of the deep

27
Sep
2005

Fisheries managers gathered in Estonia for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation annual meeting last week, once again failed to take the ‘urgent action’ against destructive fishing practices called for by the United Nations, apparently deciding instead to develop guidelines on gathering data and review existing research. ‘NAFO “fiddling while Rome burns” with their reform agenda’ was the headline of the Greenpeace press release lamenting the outcome of last week’s meeting (1). In spite of three reports highly critical of the performance of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) released this year (2), including that of an advisory body appointed by the Canadian government which called for NAFO to be scrapped entirely to make way for a more modern organisation, NAFO has decided to reform itself with the launch of a review of its convention and a series of “first steps towards an ecosystem approach” (3).

Continue reading NAFO fiddles while Rome burns

19
Sep
2005

The once rich groundfish resources of the Grand Bank have been decimated. The organisation responsible – the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) is fatally flawed, has lost all credibility and must be scrapped, says a report commissioned by the Canadian government, underlining the urgency of international calls for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling. “NAFO has been particularly ineffective in managing the stocks under its aegis… to the point that the Panel views its replacement by a more modern organization as a minimum requirement for achieving susbtainability of groundfish resources in the Grand Banks area,” says the Advisory Panel on the Sustainable Management of Straddling Fish Stocks in the Northwest Atlantic (APSS) (1) in its report (2).

Continue reading If NAFO’s the best example, the deep seas are in deep trouble

24
Aug
2005

The latest discovery of underwater life in abundance – coral forests at 1000 metres deep – was released today in Vienna at a conference (1) of marine biologists, underlining recent calls to take a time-out on trawl fishing of the ocean bottom until scientists can accurately assess the real richness of deep sea life and its resources. Scientists outlined new research from the US Government National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration 2002 and 2004 Gulf of Alaska Seamount Expeditions. Marine ecologists collected and described a new species of deep sea fan (2), or gorgonian, called a “bamboo coral” from a dozen mountains in the sea between Santa Barbara, California and Kodiak, Alaska, USA, suggesting the animal occurs on peaks throughout the Pacific Ocean.

Continue reading Oceans unveil how little is known