1 October, 2004

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) is discussing proposals to provide urgent protection for the biodiversity of the deep seas from destructive activities, most specifically from high seas bottom trawl fishing. The European Union has proposed language that is significantly weaker than what it has already agreed to do within the context of the Northeast Atlantic. Moreover, the EU proposal fails to reflect the fundamental commitments and obligations of the European Union  and its member States as parties to the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement (FSA), the Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS), and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Available in English.

1 September, 2004

The global race to fish the deep seas is, in many ways, a story of haves and have nots.

As coastal fisheries have grown more and more depleted, fleets from more developed nations are increasingly combing deep international waters in search of commercial fish and
crustacean species. More powerful engines,

more precise mapping, advanced navigational and fish-finding electronics, stronger and lighter synthetic materials – all of these developments have made it possible to bottom trawl in seas up to two kilometers (1.2 miles) deep. As a result, trawling has become the dominant high seas bottom fishing method, accounting for approximately 80 percent of the total high seas bottom fisheries catch in 2001.

Available in: English and English US standard.

 

1 September, 2004

During the past several decades, it has become possible to plow up deep- sea ecosystems that have existed for millennia, if not longer. Today, as a result, well-capitalized fleets from a handful of wealthier nations1 are destroying some of the planet’s last, most ecologically rich frontiers in search of commercial fish and crustacean species.

Until relatively recently, fishing the deep sea’s rugged floors and canyons was impossible. Advances in bottom trawl technology, however, have put the unreachable within reach. More powerful engines, bigger nets, more precise mapping, more advanced navigational and fish-finding electronics have enabled fishing vessels to drag fishing gear across the ocean bottom as much as two kilometers (1.2 miles) deep. Bottom trawling is, in fact, now the preferred method for fishing the ocean bottom on the high seas, accounting for approximately 80 percent of the total high seas bottom fisheries catch in 2001.

Available in: English, English US standard, Spanish.

1 September, 2004

At present, deep-sea1 bottom trawling on the high seas (the 64 percent of the oceans beyond national jurisdiction) is virtually unregulated. The vast majority of the high seas are not covered by regional fishery management organizations (RFMOs) with legal competence to regulate discrete high seas fish stocks. In those few areas where RFMOs have such competence – the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), the South Éast Atlantic Fisheries Organization (SEAFO) and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) – only one, CCAMLR, has taken steps to regulate bottom trawling impacts on deep- sea biodiversity. Most other RFMOs focus on straddling or highly migratory fish stocks such as tuna or tuna-like species. Despite requirements of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement (FSA) that apply to highly migratory and straddling fish stocks, the RFMOs remain mostly focused on the conservation and sustainable use of fisheries resources – and not on the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity.

Available in: English, English US standard, Spanish.

1 September, 2004

In February 2004, 1,136 scientists from 69 countries released a statement expressing profound concern “that human activities, particularly bottom trawling, are causing unprecedented damage to the deep-sea coral and sponge communities on continental plateaus and slopes, and on seamounts and mid-ocean ridges.” The statement called on governments and the United Nations to establish a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling. (For a full text of the statement, see www.mcbi.org).

Available in: English, English US standard, Spanish.

1 September, 2004

The deep sea is one of the last frontiers on the planet – the home to breathtaking landscapes of mountains, hills, ridges and troughs that very few of us will ever see. Until a short time ago, it was assumed that there was little life in the cold and dark waters of the deep sea, which cover more than half the world’s surface. New technologies, however, have turned that

belief on its head. Today, scientists and the fishing industry know that the deep sea is teeming with life, most of which remains undiscovered. Scientists, in fact, have speculated that as many as 10 million species may inhabit the deep sea – biodiversity comparable to the world’s richest tropical rainforests.

Available in: English, English US Standard, Spanish

1 November, 2003

Source: WWF

Although there are tens of thousands of seamounts spread throughout the world’s oceans, these undersea featuresare still little-known environments with regard to their biodiversity, their ecology and the short and long-termeffects of human impacts. However, it has become clear in recent years that seamounts host very specialecosystems which are at risk from intensive exploitation of their natural resources.

Available in English.

 

1 June, 2003

Fact, not fiction—corals really do exist, and flourish, hundreds and even thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface. In the last few decades, cameras have recorded beautiful gardens of deep sea coral off the coasts of North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand—even deeper than Jules Verne imagined, and every bit as breathtaking. Unlike shallow water coral communities, which are the subject of many nature films, deep sea corals are unfamiliar to the public and even to many marine scientists.

Available in English.