Ten Years On It’s Time To Protect The Seamounts

Date: November 9, 2016

Negotiations are currently underway at the UN in NYC to decide the fisheries resolutions which will go before the General Assembly next month. On November 9th & 10th the highly destructive practice of bottom fishing in the deep ocean will be under scrutiny. Following a review earlier this year to consider the implementation of previous resolutions seeking to control the negative impact, the DSCC is calling for bottom fishing on seamounts to be stopped to preserve fragile habitats.  A resolution proposed by South Africa supports this and also calls for a further review in 2020.  This and other proposals will be discussed over the coming two days.

Source: Huffington Post
Author: Thembile Joyini

It has been ten years since States at the United Nations (UN) adopted a resolution (61/105) recognizing the destructive impact of deep ocean bottom fishing in areas beyond national jurisdiction (the high seas). The original resolution called for rigorous measures to protect the highly vulnerable habitats and biodiversity of the deep and a second resolution (64/72) three years later, strengthened this. It was a landmark moment for ocean protection as we recognized the importance of preserving the biodiversity of remote areas of our global ocean, for all humankind.

A review of implementation of the resolutions, held at the UN earlier this year, found that even though the decade has passed, bottom fishing is still causing the kind of damage we all sought to prevent.

A single pass by a bottom trawler can leave a scar on the seabed or side of a seamount of up to one kilometer square. Mitigating that scale of impact is not easy and after ten years, it is time to conclude that it is not currently possible and that, at the very least, the most fragile deep sea habitats such as seamounts should be closed to the practice.

The ocean is vital for the existence of all humankind, it is the engine of our planet driving weather, producing protein and contributing half our oxygen. Each year we understand more about the key role that the deep ocean plays within that and as an African nation we know that the ocean is vital to our development. The seamounts of the deep may be a long way from our land but their reach is felt and they are woven into our future.

©Peter Chadwick/Wildscreen Exchange

For this reason, South Africa is proposing that individually and through regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements, States do not authorize bottom trawl fishing on seamounts and other submarine features.

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