Since our last update in April, there is much to report with regard to protection of biodiversity in deep-sea ecosystems on the high seas. To name a few highlights: NAFO agreed on measures to implement provisions in the UNGA Sustainable Fisheries Resolution (61/105) on high seas bottom fishing; the 9th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity endorsed scientific criteria that will be important for establishing marine protected areas in the high seas; the FAO has published an updated draft of the international guidelines for managing deep-sea fisheries and the high seas (to be finalized in August); and countries are beginning to implement interim measures in the South Pacific. The DSCC is encouraged by progress in some areas towards meeting the obligations set out in 61/105, though the devil will be in the implementation details.
The meeting of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) ended on 16 November without an agreement to implement the UN General Assembly (UN GA) Resolution on bottom fishing. This is the second meeting of the Commission this year at which NEAFC’s contracting parties have failed to do so.
Download this press release (pdf) The long awaited UN Report of measures to protect the vulnerable deep oceans of the high seas has confirmed that these areas receive about as much protection as the dodo did in seventeenth century Mauritius. The Report was ordered by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in 2004 and was conducted by the UN Oceans Division known by its acronym DOALOS.
The North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) has failed to further reduce fishing effort on vulnerable deep-sea fish stocks and to protect cold-water coral reefs from deep sea bottom trawling, against the recent advice of scientists.