EU

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

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22
Nov
2018

Source: Slow Food

Slow Food regrets that instead of setting sustainable catch limits for 19 deep-water stocks, the Agriculture and Fisheries Council withdrew six stocks from the quota, and agreed on the fishing opportunities for only 13 deep-sea stocks in the EU and international waters in the North-East Atlantic, for 2019 and 2020.

Continue reading Slow Food Worried about Newly Adopted Decisions on Marine Environments

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20
Nov
2018

Source: Undercurrent News

The EU Council has agreed on the total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for certain deep-sea stocks in the EU and international waters in the North-East Atlantic, for 2019 and 2020.

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It said it had decided to make cuts to fishing opportunities to protect the maritime environment and help the industry in the longer term.

Continue reading here.

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14
Nov
2018

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
Author: Andrew Clayton

The deep sea is a mysterious world, pitch black and subject to extreme conditions. Life there is specially adapted to this environment, but also remarkably susceptible to human activities such as fishing.

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Continue reading Two Steps to Prevent Overfishing of Deep Sea Species in the EU

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21
Sep
2018

Source: Euronews
Author: Alice Cuddy

More than 150 scientists have called on EU leaders to end the “overfishing crisis” in the Mediterranean to prevent the collapse of the region’s fish stocks.

Experts from European countries including Italy, Spain, the UK and France signed a declaration by leading conservation group Oceana, which calls on the EU to reform the fisheries industry in what is considered the world’s most overfished sea.

Continue reading Scientists across Europe urge EU to end Mediterranean ‘overfishing crisis’

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18
Jan
2018

Source: Seas At Risk

Seas At Risk welcomes the European Parliament’s resolution on international ocean governance  adopted on 16th January, particularly its strong stance on deep-sea mining. In calling for an international moratorium, the European Parliament becomes a primary custodian of the deep sea, hopefully prompting the European Commission and Member States to follow suit.

Continue reading European Parliament calls for international moratorium on deep-sea mining

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18
Nov
2016

Source: Seas At Risk

The annual meeting of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission closed today without agreement regarding management of the deep-sea fish orange roughy. The Commission also agreed on total allowable catches of 7,500 tonnes for redfish in the Irminger Sea. These decisions leave both vulnerable species subject to overfishing, despite clear scientific advice to not allow any direct fishing for them.

Continue reading Vulnerable key fish stocks left without protection due to hiccups at the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission

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24
May
2016

Source: Deep Sea Mining Campaign

LONDON | This morning, NGOs and civil society are outside the 5th Annual Deep Sea Mining Summit calling for a ban on a potentially environmentally destructive “frontier” industry. They are calling on the EU to stop funding such reckless development activities and are standing in solidarity with NGOs, churches and community across the Pacific.

Continue reading From the Pacific to London: Ban Seabed Mining

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10
Nov
2015

European Parliament must now conclude negotiations with Council and Commission

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) welcomes the latest milestones in a lengthy battle to protect a uniquely vulnerable environment as the European Union (EU) Fisheries Council agreed last week to support measures to limit destructive deep-sea fishing, in particular to prohibit bottom trawling below 800 metres in EU waters in the northeast Atlantic. The European Parliament, which formulated its position on the file in December 2013, agreed today to enter into negotiations with the Council to finalise a regulation.

Continue reading Europe A Step Closer To Protecting Deep Sea From Bottom Trawling

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25
Sep
2015

The 37th Annual Meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) concluded today in Halifax, Canada. Member countries agreed to several measures that will lead to improved ecosystem protection, but did not follow scientific advice provided over the past two years to close a number of deep-sea coral and sponge areas to bottom trawling or to regulate the fishery for alphonsino, a deep-sea species fished on the high seas of the northwest Atlantic.

Continue reading NAFO closes seamounts to bottom fishing, fails to regulate Alphonsino fishery

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