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.
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization
The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) adopted a comprehensive agreement to manage high seas bottom fisheries in the Northwest Atlantic at its meeting which ended May 7th. NAFO members include Canada, the European Union, Norway, Iceland, Canada, Russia and the US.
(Montreal, PQ) Conservation organizations from across Canada and Europe have called on the European Union, Canada, Russia, Iceland, Norway, Japan, the United States and the other member nations of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) to urgently agree to protect deep-sea species in the Northwest Atlantic. A special session of NAFO meets this week in Montreal to decide on regulations to protect cold-water corals and other vulnerable deep-sea species from deep-sea bottom fisheries on the high seas.
High seas fishing nations failed to agree to comprehensive protection of cold-water corals and other vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems on the high seas of the Northwest Atlantic Ocean at the annual meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), which concluded in Lisbon today. In 2006, the United Nations General Assembly (UN GA) called on NAFO and other regional fisheries management bodies to urgently protect highly vulnerable and unique deep-sea ecosystems such as seamounts, cold-water corals and hydrothermal vents from the destructive impact of bottom fishing.
As major fishing nations gather to determine the future of the Northwest Atlantic, members of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition called upon states to implement the United Nations General Assembly (UN GA) mandate for deep ocean protection.
The Southern Pacific ocean was today one step closer to the protection of its deep-sea ecosystems as the Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) meeting in New Caledonia ended. With the world’s major fishing nations striving to protect the South Pacific by implementing the 2006 UN General Assembly Resolution on deep-sea ecosystems, the spotlight now turns to the North West Atlantic. NAFO, the RFMO responsible for the North West Atlantic, meets in Portugal from 24 – 28 September.
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.
A new publication by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and TRAFFIC confirms the position of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) that regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) are not a panacea to stop the devastation of vulnerable deep-sea marine ecosystems by bottom trawlers operating on the high seas. (1)
A new study published in Nature has revealed serious declines in deep water species targeted for commercial fishing in the Northwest Atlantic. The study examined population trends in five species of deep water fish along the continental slope in the Atlantic waters of Canada caught in research trawl surveys between the period 1978 and 1994. Of those studied, two species – the roundnose grenadier and the onion-eye or roughhead grenadier – are commercially valuable. The remaining three species – blue hake, spiny eel and spinytail skate – are taken as bycatch in other fisheries, primarily the deep-water trawl fisheries for Greenland halibut and redfish.
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).