UN renews call for URGENT ACTION to protect largest biosphere on the planet

Date: December 6, 2011

New York, 6 December 2011: The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has today adopted a resolution on Oceans and Sustainable Fisheries which calls on high seas fishing nations to take stronger actions to protect deep sea life.

Welcomed by the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC), the resolution reinforces the conclusions of a report presented by the DSCC at a special UNGA meeting in September. The meeting was held to review the actions taken by high seas fishing nations to implement resolutions adopted by the UNGA in 2006 and 2009 to protect deep-sea life from the harmful effects of bottom trawling and other methods of deep-sea fishing.

Today’s resolution concludes that “urgent actions called for in the relevant paragraphs of [previously adopted UNGA resolutions] 61/105 and 64/72 have not been fully implemented” with respect to the regulation of deep-sea fisheries on the high seas and “emphasizes the need for full implementation by all States and relevant regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements of their commitments under those paragraphs on an urgent basis” to protect deep-sea ecosystems and species.

“Its critical that the UNGA continues this level of oversight with regard to deep sea life lest it become a case of out of sight out of mind. The planet’s largest biosphere remains the least protected and the most in need of international attention,” said Matthew Gianni of the DSCC.

The resolution further calls for strengthening procedures for conducting environmental impact assessments of high seas bottom fisheries and calls on States to publicize “without delay” the assessments and improve compliance with deep-sea fisheries regulations.

Bottom trawl fishing, the most common method of bottom fishing on the high seas, involves dragging heavy steel plates, cables and large nets across the ocean floor which can severely damage deep-sea coral reefs, sponge fields and other vulnerable deep-sea habitats and species. Numerous scientific reports have concluded that bottom trawl fishing is the greatest threat to deep-sea life today.

“The UN resolutions commit high seas fishing nations to prohibit deep-sea bottom fishing unless environmental impact assessments have been conducted and regulations are put into place to prevent the destruction of deep-sea biodiversity” said Matthew Gianni. “This year’s resolution strengthens the environmental impact assessment requirements of the resolution, and makes it crystal clear that assessments must be made public. Transparency is critical to holding high seas fishing nations accountable for their actions. It is now up to individual States and fisheries organizations, to ensure that the United Nations requirements are implemented.”


Ten countries – Spain, South Korea, New Zealand, the Russia, Australia, Japan, France, Portugal, Belize, and Estonia – are responsible for approximately 80% of the high seas deep-sea fishing fleet. Worldwide review of bottom fisheries in the high seas UN FAO [link]

The DSCC report Unfinished business: a review of the implementation of the provisions of United Nations General Assembly resolutions 61/105 and 64/72, related to the management of bottom fisheries in areas beyond national jurisdiction September 2011 can be found here

The report of the September 2011 UNGA workshop on deep-sea fisheries can be found here

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) is a coalition of over 70 organizations worldwide founded in 2004 to work to protect deep-sea ecosystems and promote sustainable fisheries on the high seas.

For further information please contact:
Matthew Gianni +31 646 168 899 matthewgianni@gmail.com





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