Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The UN Workshop on Bottom Fishing

Credit: UN Photo/Joao Araujo Pinto on Flickr

This week, September 15-16, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is holding a workshop reviewing what has been done to limit the impact of bottom fishing on high seas ecosystems.  The review comes just two years after the UN found that resolutions adopted in 2006 and 2009 calling for protective measures were not being fully implemented. 

The official title of the workshop is as follows:
Workshop to discuss implementation of paragraphs 80 and 83 to 87 of resolution 61/105 and paragraphs 117 and 119 to 127 of resolution 64/72 on sustainable fisheries, addressing the impacts of bottom fishing on vulnerable marine ecosystems and the long-term sustainability of deep sea fish stocks
You wouldn’t know it from the title, but this workshop is actually quite special.  For the first time ever, the UN will conduct an open review of national and regional actions with regards to deep-sea protection.  In the past, negotiations have taken place behind closed doors leaving few opportunities for civil society to advocate for sustainable resource management practices and the conservation of biodiversity.  This time around, we have been given the opportunity to directly share our views and those of leading scientists who are engaged in deep-sea research. 

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) will be present at the workshop along with numerous coalition member groups.  We’ll hold a side event and an evening reception to inform and encourage action among policymakers, and coalition partners and DSCC leadership will participate in expert panels scheduled into the main agenda.

We hope the conclusions from the workshop will influence the UNGA – and in particular certain countries who are engaged in high seas bottom fishing and regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) – to take much stronger action to see that resolutions protecting the deep sea are implemented.  Learn more about those resolutions here.

We at the DSCC are specifically urging the General Assembly to call for:

1. The immediate cessation of high seas bottom fishing except where conservation measures consistent with UNGA resolutions are in force and have been effectively and fully implemented;

2. The protection of all vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) as identified by the UN FAO, including long-lived fish species, spawning areas on the high seas and unique habitats such as seamounts and canyons; and,

3. The designation of high seas bottom fishing as illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing when it is conducted in contravention of international instruments, including UNGA resolutions.

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