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Friday, September 9, 2011

Deep sea species and ecosystems: worth saving?

Is the deep sea worth saving? Living Oceans Society thinks so, and we'll punch you in your glasses if you disagree.

Did you know? When confronted by danger, the roundnose grenadier's only
defense is to secrete a thick, sticky layer of pathos.

OK, we won't actually punch anyone, but we're still serious about saving the deep sea. This is why we're a part of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC). Thanks to the work of the DSCC, you and I have an opportunity to tell the United Nations that yes - the deep sea is worth saving. Read the following message from the DSCC, to learn more.

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For the first time ever, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will conduct an open review of national and regional actions to protect those deep-sea species and ecosystems that are beyond national jurisdiction from the harmful impacts of bottom fishing. This open review is scheduled to take place at UN headquarters in New York, on 15-16 September, 2011.

There's a lot of history behind this review. Back in 2006, the UNGA considered a moratorium on all bottom trawling in the high seas. Ultimately, they did not take this approach, and instead opted for a compromise. As part of that compromise, and following global concern over the destructive impacts of bottom fishing on the high seas, two resolutions calling for urgent action have already been adopted by the United Nations in 2006 and again in 2009. Full implementation of the resolutions, however, would result in area closures whenever bottom trawling would cause significant impacts.

After an initial review in 2009, the 2011 UNGA is looking to make further recommendations for action, which will specifically evaluate the extent to which the two previous resolutions have been implemented by high seas fishing States and regional fisheries management organizations (RMFOs). High seas bottom fishing States include, among others: Australia, China, France, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, the Russian Federation and South Korea.

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) has assessed compliance with the UNGA resolutions on high seas bottom fishing, and has engaged with world renowned scientists and other partner organizations to carry this out. The results of this assessment– contained in various other reports– will be released at the 2011 UN review.The initial conclusions indicate that high seas fishing States are, with few exceptions, failing to live up to the provisions of UNGA resolutions (61/105 and 64/72), and as a result, many deep sea species are increasingly overfished and Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) continue to be significantly damaged.The

DSCC therefore, also as part of their ‘Worth Saving?’ campaign, urges the General Assembly to call for:

  • The immediate cessation of high seas bottom fishing except where conservation measures consistent with UNGA resolutions 61/105 and 64/72, and any subsequent UNGA resolutions, are in force and have been effectively and fully implemented;
  • The protection of all VMEs as identified in FAO Guidelines on Deep Sea Fisheries (paragraph 42), including long-lived fish species, spawning areas on the high seas and unique habitats such as seamounts and canyons; and,
  • The designation of high seas bottom fishing as Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing when it is conducted in contravention of international instruments, including UNGA resolutions 61/105 and 64/72, regional measures, such as UNGA compliant conservation and management measures adopted by regional fisheries management organizations, or UNGA compliant national rules.

Want to help policymakers make the right decisions on the deep sea? Check out our 'Worth Saving?' campaign, which seeks to protect the highly threatened roundnose grenadier – which can live at depths between 700m-10,000m and may live up to 80 years– and thousands of other deep sea species and ecosystems at risk. And check out our website and blog for more information.

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