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Initiatives to Protect the Deep Sea


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Presetation to the WWF Blue School on Initiatives to Protect the Deep Sea: The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, November 2005.

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Initiatives to Protect the Deep Sea

  1. 1. Current international initiatives to protect deep sea habitats: The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition Sebastián Losada Greenpeace
  2. 2. What is the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition? The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, an alliance of over 40 international organizations, representing millions of people in countries around the world, is calling for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling. For further information
  3. 3. Roughy Bonanza in the Indian Ocean Fishing News International May 2000  “Up to 40 freezers trawlers could be joining in an orange roughy bonanza now developing on newly discovered seamounts spreading over a huge area of the Indian Ocean…”.  “Catches of up to 100 tonnes a day of orange roughy and alfonsino are being taken by the dozens of freezer ships already on the seamounts which are mostly outside national limits”.  “Ships from Namibia, New Zealand and South Africa are already on the grounds, while others are expected from as far away as Russia and China ...Spanish freezer trawlers are being offered for sale to owners seeking to join-in the fishery”.  “The fishing effort is expected to build up on the seamounts this month and during June and July… However, owners working in or planning to target this fishery are not willing to discuss their operations”. 
  4. 4. Latest ICES advice on Deep Sea Stocks “Scientists will recommend that all existing deep- sea fisheries should be cutback to low levels until they can demonstrate that they are sustainable. They will advise zero catch of depleted deep- sea sharks, and they will recommend that no new fisheries for deep-sea fish should be allowed until it can be demonstrated that they are capable of being sustainable. For all existing deep-sea fisheries, ICES will advise that fishing pressure should be reduced considerably to low levels, and should only be allowed to expand again very slowly until reliable assessments indicate that increased harvests are sustainable. New fisheries on deep-sea fish should be permitted only when they are accompanied by programmes to collect data and should expand very slowly until it can be ICES Press Release demonstrated that they, too, can be sustainable”. October 2005
  5. 5. Why a moratorium on High Seas Bottom Trawling? s 64% of the oceans are outside the EEZs; s The fishing industry is expanding to deep sea areas in response to depletion of traditional resources. s Only in a few areas there are RFMOs with a competence to regulate bottom trawling.
  6. 6. Why a moratorium on High Seas Bottom Trawling? s We simply don't know where vulnerable ecosystems are found; s We simply don't know enough about the biology of deep sea species and the ecology of deep sea ecosystems; s We simply don't have the institutions to ensure sound management of deep sea fishing fleets.
  7. 7. Why a moratorium on High Seas Bottom Trawling? s to give us time to assess and understand the importance and functioning of deep sea ecosystems and species; s to give us time to develop the legal instruments to guarantee a sustainable and equitable exploitation of these ecosystems;
  8. 8. United Nations Ban on the use of High Seas Driftnets s Precedent established through the UN General Assembly Resolutions 44/225, 45/197 and 46/215 on large- scale driftnet fishing on the high seas; s Coordinated international approach applied consistently across all high seas areas; s Based on the wider effects of fishing on the ecosystem and not only on the target species.
  9. 9. We don't know enough to manage deep sea ecosystems s There are between 30.000 and 100.000 seamounts; s Between 500.000 and 10 million species live in the abisal domain; many are new to science; s Over 15% of the species found in a particular seamount can be endemic; s Very little is known yet about the distribution of cold water corals in many areas, i.e. NEAFC.
  10. 10. Deep sea ecosystems are inherently vulnerable s Late maturity and slow growth of deep sea species; s Some comercial species live up to 200 years and reach maturity when they are 30 years old. s Low recovery rates or not recovery at a human scale if overexploited; s Some cold water reefs may be as old as 8.500 years or more.
  11. 11. In February 2004, 1.136 scientists from 69 countries made a public statement showing deep concern for the damage caused by human activities and particularly bottom trawling to vulnerable deep sea ecosystems, and asking for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling.
  12. 12. The biggest threat Bottom Trawling s Physical damage to slow growing structures; s High by-catch rates in deep sea fisheries; s Continuous expansion to new areas;
  13. 13. The biggest threat Bottom Trawling s Globally between 100 and 200 vessels are bottom trawling in the high seas; s In 2001 HSBT fleets caught between 170.000 and 215.000 tons, or 0.25 of the global world catch; s This year only 11 countries were responsible for 95% of the HSBT catches;
  14. 14. Ilegal Unregulated Unreported?
  15. 15. Regularly Failing to Manage our Oceans s Very few RFMOs have a competence to regulate bottom trawling; s Those who have have failed to do so; i.e. in 2005 4 out of 6 species managed by NAFO were under a fishing moratorium. s RFMOs have to be urgently reformed. They need to address protection of vulnerable ecosystems and impose a moratorium until such protection is in place.
  16. 16. Relevant International Instruments for the Protection of High Seas Biodiversity s UNCLOS. s 1995 UNFSA. s FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. s The Hague Ministerial Declaration. s UN World Summit Plan of Implementation. s UN FAO IPOA on IUU fishing.
  17. 17. What has happened so far Recent international resolutions s The UNGA, UNICPOLOS, the CBD or IUCN have asked States to take urgent action to address the destruction of biodiversity on the high seas; s Bottom trawling has been identified as the biggest threat to these ecosystems; s An increasing number of countries is showing support for the moratorium.
  18. 18. 2006 Agenda Opportunities for the deep sea s WG on Protection of Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction established by the UNGA; s Review of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement; s Review of measures taken by RFMOs to address conservation of biodiversity on the HS; s UNGA?