New research reveals clear scientific reasons for the bottom trawling to stop

Date: November 15, 2006

Responding to new scientific findings about the correlation between seamounts, stony corals and high seas fishing grounds, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) today challenged the few remaining countries opposing a moratorium to step out of the way. Matthew Gianni of the DSCC said, “all along the science has shown us that bottom trawling on the high seas needs to stop, until we can be sure it’s not damaging unique deep sea life.

This new research is the most emphatic yet – high seas bottom trawling is destroying vulnerable ecosystems. Most countries in the world support a moratorium of some kind, it’s time for the remaining few who oppose action to step out of the way.” At the end of this week (17th November) negotiations at the United Nations General Assembly will resume on the issue of a high seas bottom trawling moratorium. Despite majority support for an interim prohibition, a few countries continue to derail progress. Canada, Spain Russia and the European Union all have either weak or oppositional positions and are preventing consensus – the preferred approach to UN negotiations – from being achieved.

The European Union continues to be the most significant obstacle, despite support for a moratorium by many of its members, including Germany, France, Belgium, Austria, UK and Sweden. “Spain is holding the EU hostage out of vested interest in a small fishing fleet working in the South West Atlantic,” said Matthew Gianni. “Opposition flies in the face of scientific evidence, public concern and plain common sense. The rest of the world cannot allow itself to be dictated to and its global heritage to be plundered by a few States protecting short term economic interests at the expense of the global commons.” The United States, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Pacific Island States, Norway, India and many others are supporting measures to implement a temporary prohibition on high seas bottom trawling. The negotiations are due to conclude on November 21st.

Media briefing: A media briefing on the findings of the Seamounts, Deep-sea corals and Fisheries UNEP WCMC report was held on Tuesday 14th November at 10.30am at the Zoological Society of London. The briefing included short presentations from Dr Rogers (ZSL) and Matthew Gianni (Deep Sea Conservation Coalition), with the opportunity for short interviews after the presentations.

Contact: For further information about the DSCC, UN negotiations or the threats posed by bottom trawling, please contact: Mirella von Lindenfels,, ++ 44 (0) 7717 844 352 For further information on ZSL’s Scientific Meeting please contact: Alice Henchley,, (+44) 20 74496361

Notes: Seamounts, Deep-sea corals and Fisheries: vulnerability of deep-sea corals to fishing on seamounts beyond areas of national jurisdiction – UNEP WCMC Report. Download pdf
Joint Lead Authors: Malcolm R Clark, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand; Derek Tittensor, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada; Alex D Rogers, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, UK. Editor: Stefan Hain, Head, UNEP Coral Reef Unit
Supporting Organisations: UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP WCMC); Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO); Department of Nature, Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Netherlands; Census of Marine Life; National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

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