Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Deep-Sea Fishing Countries Fail to Implement United Nations Agreements

The DSCC presented its preliminary findings at a side event during the UN's BBNJ working group meeting on June 2, 2011.
Last week at the BBNJ meeting the DSCC reported the preliminary findings from its third comprehensive review of the implementation of UN General Assembly resolutions calling for protection of the deep sea.  

The results? Failure to implement the resolutions is leaving the majority of deep-sea biodiversity on the high seas threatened by destructive fishing.  (You may recall that we've discussed the relevant UN resolutions here.)

The main findings from this report are:
  • Most deep-sea fisheries have been heavily depleted.
  • Nearly all regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) and States have fallen so far short of the requirements as to warrant immediate closure of their deep-sea fisheries on the high seas (the only exception is in the Antarctic or CCAMLR region).
  • Many vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) remain open with few or no constraints.
  • There has been a general reluctance to close areas where most bottom fishing currently takes place, or has taken place in recent years.
  • Flag states are selectively implementing the resolutions, obeying them in some ocean regions and ignoring them elsewhere.
  • Failure to effectively implement the resolutions risks undermining the authority and efficacy of the UN General Assembly. 
  • Other nations must declare that any fish caught in contravention of the resolutions should be considered illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU).

The full report will be released in June.

*Note: 'BBNJ’ is UN-speak for the ‘The Ad Hoc open-ended informal working group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine Biodiversity Beyond areas of National Jurisdiction

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