Bottom trawl fishing on the high seas is the most immediate and widespread threat to the unique and vulnerable biodiversity of the deep sea in international waters. For this reason Seas At Risk and many scientists, NGOs, and national authorities have been calling for the United Nations to establish a moratorium or temporary prohibition to provide protection for unique and largely unknown deep water areas of high biodiversity, e.g., seamounts, until effective and legally-binding measures can be put in place.

Bottom trawl fishing on the high seas is the most immediate and widespread threat to the unique and vulnerable biodiversity of the deep sea in international waters. For this reason Seas At Risk and many scientists, NGOs, and national authorities have been calling for the United Nations to establish a moratorium or temporary prohibition to provide protection for unique and largely unknown deep water areas of high biodiversity, e.g., seamounts, until effective and legally-binding measures can be put in place.

Because high seas bottom trawling is highly destructive, urgent protection measures are needed. Now is the time to take action, with the economic importance of this new fishery still relatively low. Most of the high seas beyond the 200nm Exclusive Economic Zones of coastal nations, are unregulated. Against this background a UN General Assembly-declared moratorium on high seas bottom trawling is the only viable, short-term method of protecting deep sea ecosystems and fish stocks while a longer-term solution is agreed and implemented. Through our work with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC), a consortium of over 50 NGOs from around the world, this call is now supported by many nations around the world.

Seas At Risk background paper on high seas bottom trawling (October 2006).

Schematic showing how bottom-trawling works (image courtesy of the BBC).

UN General Assembly meeting 2006

European Commission working document on destructive fishing practices on the high seas (29/9/2006).
Joint-NGO letter to European Commissioner Dimas regarding UN moratorium on high seas bottom trawling (2/10/06).
Joint-NGO letter to European Commission President Barroso regarding UNGA negotiations (6/10/06).
The final text of the 2006 UN General Assembly Sustainable Fisheries Resolution; for bottom trawling OP83-OP91 are most relevant (23/12/06).

To visit the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) web site click here

IDDRI international seminar: "Towards a new governance of high seas biodiversity". Principality of Monaco (20-21/3/08).

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