United Nations General Assembly must play the lead role in resolving the threat to deep-sea biodiversity posed by bottom trawling on the high seas

Date: September 20, 2004

In a letter to EU Fisheries Minister Franz Fischler and the External Affairs, Environment and Fisheries Ministers of all EU Member States, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition expressed deep concern “if the European Union were to advocate that the UN FAO and/or Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) take the lead in resolving this issue.”

Most high seas areas of the world’s oceans are not covered by RFMOs with the legal competence to regulate bottom fisheries. In those few areas where RFMOs do exist (with the exception of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)), they have not regulated any bottom trawl fisheries for the impacts on deep-sea corals and other vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems within their area of competence. The letter was sent in anticipation of the upcoming meeting of COMAR (Working Group on the Law of the Sea), to be held on 29 September, at which the EU will discuss its position for the United Nations General Assembly discussions on high seas biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. Read the letter.