France to support high seas moratorium in unregulated areas

Date: November 28, 2005

On the eve of the UN General Assembly debate on Oceans, the French government announced that “In order to limit the impact on habitats in the high sea, France will support a moratorium on all fishing techniques for deep-sea species, where there is no competent authority in this regard (70% of the oceans), pending the creation of a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO)”. France also “encourages the adaptation of the mandates of Regional Fisheries Organisations to integrate the protection of biodiversity in their mission”.

Both statements can be found in a five-page statement released by the French Minister of Ecology last week, after the Council of Minister approved seven Action Plans, including an Oceans Action Plan, for the implementation of France’s National Biodiversity Strategy (1). The National Biodiversity Strategy and its seven Action Plans represent the framework by which France intends to implement its commitments under the 2002 Convention on Biological Diversity and World Summit on Sustainable Development agreements to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010. As the Paris newspaper Le Monde pointed out on Saturday 26 November, the support for a high seas moratorium where there are no RFMOs, is one of the novelties contained in the seven Action Plans (2). “We hope that France will now make its voice heard both in New York and Brussels”, said DSCC Political Adviser Rémi Parmentier. “This is an important first step on the part of France, and a significant departure from its past position of unconditional support for the Spanish trawling fleet and the devastation it continues to wreak on deep sea life”. Parmentier said that the incorporation of action against high seas bottom trawling as part of the National Biodiversity Strategy is significant because “biodiversity continues to shrink, due to too many Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity not putting their words into action”. “We look forward to the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, to be held in March 2006 in Brazil, as an opportunity to discuss action to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems against high seas bottom trawling”, Parmentier said. (3)

Notes: (1) Des actions pour enrayer l’érosion du vivant. Actions phares des plans d’action sectoriels de la Stratégie Nationale pour la Biodiversité, 23 novembre 2005, Ministère de l’Ecologie et du Développement Durable. See Paragraphs 24 and 25. Downnload pdf (2) La France s’organise pour stopper la perte de diversité biologique d’ici à 2010, Le Monde, 25 November 2005 (3) Convention on Biological Diversity website