Time’s up: Fisheries managers fail to meet international commitments

Date: November 8, 2009

Responding to the preliminary findings of a new scientific report published today (November 9th), which describes a systematic failure by fisheries managers in the North Atlantic to protect the deep oceans, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) has said it’s time to halt unregulated deep sea bottom fishing .

The report, entitled ‘The Implementation of UN Resolution 61/105 in the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries on the High Seas,’ finds that the measures taken to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems and deep-sea species on the high seas in the North Atlantic are at best inadequate and at worst non-existent. Lead author of the report, Dr Alex Rogers of the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), said that in the Northeast Atlantic deep-sea fisheries, there has been extensive misreporting, under-reporting or non-reporting of catch, particularly of by-catch species and some species are threatened with extinction.

The report examines the data available from Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs), the bodies tasked with implementing the United Nations (UN) Resolution. Matthew Gianni, Policy Advisor to the DSCC said “The UN resolution was designed to provide protection for vulnerable deep sea areas and species in lieu of a moratorium. The RFMOs studied in the report have failed to fully implement the resolution, without exception. The only alternative is to impose a temporary prohibition on all bottom fishing for deep-sea species in these areas until the RFMOs do what they have committed to do through the UN and prove that they can fish responsibly.”

Next week, the Sustainable Fisheries resolution negotiations recommence at UN headquarters in New York to determine further recommendations needed in this year’s General Assembly Resolution to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems and sustainably manage deep-sea fisheries. Matthew Gianni noted that: “The UN Secretary General’s own report has already concluded that implementation of the resolution is inadequate and this new scientific analysis confirms that. The negotiations should acknowledge this failure and the need for a new, stronger approach to enforcing protection for these seriously imperiled deep sea areas and species.”


IPSO has released pre-publication extracts of its report ‘The Implementation of UN Resolution 61/105 in the Management of Deep-Sea Fisheries on the High Seas.’ The extracts cover the NAFO and NEAFC areas plus the key findings and recommendations. The complete report will be published in February of next year.

The UN Sustainable Fisheries Negotiations run from the 16-20, and 23rd November.