Urgent Action Needed: A Global Moratorium on Deep Sea Bottom Trawling on the High Seas

Date: September 1, 2004

At present, deep-sea1 bottom trawling on the high seas (the 64 percent of the oceans beyond national jurisdiction) is virtually unregulated. The vast majority of the high seas are not covered by regional fishery management organizations (RFMOs) with legal competence to regulate discrete high seas fish stocks. In those few areas where RFMOs have such competence – the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), the South Éast Atlantic Fisheries Organization (SEAFO) and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) – only one, CCAMLR, has taken steps to regulate bottom trawling impacts on deep- sea biodiversity. Most other RFMOs focus on straddling or highly migratory fish stocks such as tuna or tuna-like species. Despite requirements of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement (FSA) that apply to highly migratory and straddling fish stocks, the RFMOs remain mostly focused on the conservation and sustainable use of fisheries resources – and not on the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity.

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