The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition today released a report at the United Nations which describes major shortcomings in the implementation of UN General Assembly resolutions designed to protect the deep-ocean from the destructive impact of fishing.

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition today released a report at the United Nations which describes major shortcomings in the implementation of UN General Assembly resolutions designed to protect the deep-ocean from the destructive impact of fishing.

The report, titled 'The Implementation of UNGA Resolutions 61/105 and 64/72 in the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries on the High Seas', examined data available from Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and found that while substantial portions of the high seas in some regions, such as the Northeast Atlantic, have been closed to bottom fishing to protect deep-sea coral ecosystems, most high seas areas remain open to continued bottom fishing with few constraints.

Lead author of the report, Dr Alex Rogers said: “RFMOs are failing to manage deep-sea bottom fisheries on the high seas sustainably with respect to target and by-catch species.”

“For most fisheries there is little or no information on the status of stocks and in many cases we do not even know what is being caught where,” he added.

The report makes clear that although Deep-sea gillnet fishing has been prohibited in the Northeast and Southeast Atlantic, the South Pacific and the Southern Ocean, it is bottom trawl fishing - the most destructive fishing gear to deep-sea ecosystems - that has only been banned in the waters around Antarctica.

The paper also states that many vulnerable marine ecosystems have not been considered in the management of deep-sea bottom fisheries on the high seas, even when evidence of the presence of vulnerable marine ecosystems is strong.

The General Assembly called on all RFMOs and fishing nations to conduct environmental impact assessments (EIAs) of deep-sea fisheries prior to allowing them to proceed – a first in the history of high seas fisheries management. The report highlights that EIAs have not been properly conducted for the majority of deep-sea fisheries, including in the heavily fished North Atlantic region.

The report also concludes that many target and by-catch deep-sea fish species caught in the North Atlantic region continue to be highly vulnerable to excessive and unregulated fishing.

“The lack of any action to protect species that are threatened with regional extirpation or even global extinction is a particular concern in terms of marine biodiversity,” Dr Rogers said.

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition is calling on the United Nations General Assembly to secure a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling and protect these fragile and unique pockets of life in the deep seas before they are destroyed forever. Seas At Risk is a steering group member of the coalition group.

To read the full report

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