Nations Meet to Discuss Unprotected High Seas of South Pacific

Date: September 10, 2007

2007 Representatives from countries throughout the South Pacific plus the European Union (EU), Japan, Russia, China, the US and others start a meeting today in Noumea, New Caledonia, to discuss a new regime for the management of one of the largest unregulated areas of ocean in the world.

The first Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) to apply the 2006 UN General Assembly Resolution for the protection of deep-sea ecosystems, the South Pacific RFMO nations have already agreed interim protection measures until the new Agreement comes into force. Their task is now to determine the detail of the Agreement which will govern fishing activity in the region. Duncan Currie of the DSCC said, “This is an opportunity to get a robust and state of the art agreement to protect the South Pacific for this and future generations. We are all aware of the ongoing depletion of the oceans and the harm that overfishing and destructive fishing practices are causing around the world; we can learn from those mistakes and ensure this new Agreement does not replicate them.” The South Pacific is one of the most biologically diverse areas of the planet.

A recent report published by UNEP, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and the Census of Marne Life concluded that cold-water corals are likely to be found on seamounts across the region at the depths targeted by bottom trawl fishing fleets.

The meeting to negotiate a new Regional Fisheries Management Organization for the South Pacific runs Monday 10th September – Friday 14th September. The UN General Assembly adopted Resolution A/61/105 by consensus on 8 December 2006. Paragraphs 80-91 of the Resolution establish the international agreement for action on high seas bottom fishing. The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) is an alliance of over 50 international organizations, representing millions of people in countries around the world, which is calling for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling. Photos of deep-sea coral taken by a New Zealand trawler operating on the South Pacific high seas can be found at: 

Duncan Currie attending the meeting in Noumea:
+ 64 21 632 335 Mirella von Lindenfels in the UK:
+ 44 7717 844 352