Deep Sea Protection – Stage Set For The North To Follow Suit

Date: September 14, 2007

The Southern Pacific ocean was today one step closer to the protection of its deep-sea ecosystems as the Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) meeting in New Caledonia ended. With the world’s major fishing nations striving to protect the South Pacific by implementing the 2006 UN General Assembly Resolution on deep-sea ecosystems, the spotlight now turns to the North West Atlantic. NAFO, the RFMO responsible for the North West Atlantic, meets in Portugal from 24 – 28 September.

The North West Atlantic is one of the most over-exploited oceans in the world with a highly vulnerable deep-sea ecosystem. Duncan Currie of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) said: “Many of the nations which took such positive steps in the South Pacific are also members of NAFO. It will be interesting to see if they value this ocean less highly.” The South Pacific RFMO was the first to apply the UN General Assembly Resolution in a landmark decision for deep ocean conservation. It is now the turn of NAFO to determine its response. “The EU and Canada are parties to NAFO and part of its gross over-exploitation. They can do no less for this ocean that they were prepared to do for the South Pacific,” added Currie. The week-long meeting in Noumea, New Caledonia was to determine the detail of the Agreement which will govern fishing activity in the region.

Interim measures are already in place to protect the deep-sea in the area. #### The South Pacific RFMO meeting ran Monday 10th September – Friday 14th September. The next meeting is expected to be in Ecuador in March, 2008. 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 DSCC is an alliance of some 60 international organizations, representing millions of people around the world. The Coalition’s aim is to protect the deep seas through conserving living marine resources and protecting the marine environment and biodiversity. Photos of deep-sea coral taken by a New Zealand trawler operating on the South Pacific high seas can be found at:

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