On the eve of negotiations commencing at the United Nations in New York, which will determine the future of the high seas, President Bush of the United States has called for a moratorium on high seas unregulated bottom trawling and other environmentally destructive fishing practices.
In a memorandum to the secretaries of State and Commerce, he instructed that they should work with international organizations to stop “unregulated destructive fishing practices that jeopardize fish stocks and the habitats that support them.” Kelly Rigg of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition said, “This is a major step forward, and we are delighted to see President Bush taking up the call by Senator Ted Stevens, who, along with 20 senior members of the Senate, introduced a Resolution on Friday night calling for the US to support a halt to unregulated destructive fishing on the high seas.”
The US position brings the country in line with Australia, New Zealand, the UK, France and many other European countries, Brazil, Palau and South Pacific states all calling for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling. Senator Stevens, who catalysed the shift in US position on this issue said, “Management of fishing on the high seas is patchy at best. Without an effective management regime, destructive fishing practices will continue to be conducted by foreign fleets.” The US will be chairing the negotiations which commence on October 4th.