[Coral-List] UNGA Moratorium on High Seas Bottom Trawl Fishing

Sara Maxwell Sara at mcbi.org
Tue Oct 5 13:57:18 EDT 2004

Apologies for cross-postings.


Dear Colleague,


Discussions about the future of the world's oceans are now getting
underway at the UN General Assembly (UNGA). The decisions that are made
this year will have profound consequences for the myriad of life in the
deep seas.  


Many of the world's leading NGOs working to conserve and protect our
oceans have come together to form the Deep Seas Conservation Coalition
(see:  http://www.savethehighseas.org/). On behalf of millions of our
supporters worldwide, and amid a growing public demand for action, we
are calling on the UNGA to declare a moratorium on high seas bottom
trawl fishing - arguably the most destructive human activity in the deep


Scientists are united in their call for UNGA action against bottom
trawling on the high seas, which is causing "unprecedented damage" to
the fragile ecosystems of the deep seas - including ancient cold water
coral reefs (see: http://www.mcbi.org/DSC_statement/sign.htm).
Governments have already recognized the need for 'urgent action' to be
taken to stop such destructive activities (UNGA 2002, UNGA 2003, CBD
2003). It is now time for the UNGA to actually TAKE the urgent action


Please visit our website to find out why a high seas moratorium is
needed now, how it can be implemented, and why the action recommended by
UNICPOLOS V in June is simply not good enough:  


- We need a UNGA mandated moratorium, not an invitation to governments
to take action when and if they so choose.


- Governments have committed themselves to taking a precautionary
approach to protecting the oceans. Seamounts and deep-sea coral reefs
are widely believed to be areas high in biodiversity and particularly
vulnerable to bottom trawl fishing.  Protecting only those seamounts
which have been studied, as some 

have proposed, is not precautionary. Relatively few seamounts have been
studied to date, and we must not condemn the rest to destruction in the
meantime. A 'case by case' approach will not provide the necessary


- Deferring action to Regional Fisheries Management Organisations
(RFMOs) is not the solution. With only one exception, RFMOs that manage
deep-sea fisheries have fundamentally failed to protect deep-sea
ecosystems and biodiversity.   And with most deep-sea species
commercially exploited on the high seas believed to be fished well
beyond 'safe biological limits', the RFMOs have largely failed to
sustainably manage the fish stocks themselves.  If they can't even
manage deep-sea fisheries effectively, how can we assume that they will
protect deep-sea ecosystems as well?


- Likewise, deferring to the FAO alone is not the solution - this is not
solely a matter of conserving fish stocks, but of conserving and
protecting marine biodiversity on the high seas, a matter which the UNGA
must ultimately take responsibility. 


- We need a stand-alone resolution which reflects the urgency of the
action required - not a paragraph or two tucked away inside the annual
Fisheries or Oceans resolutions.


The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, and the millions of supporters of
our organisations worldwide will be monitoring the negotiations, both in
New York and from our offices all over the world. We will be putting the
public spotlight on governments that block effective action by the UNGA
and fail to take the necessary steps to protect and conserve the species
of the deep sea, for the collective good of all humankind.


We ask that you please visit our website, and post a link to it from
your own website if appropriate.  We also ask that you pass this message
on to other colleagues who may be interested.


Best wishes,

Kelly Rigg

Coalition Coordinator

dsccinfo at vardagroup.org



Sara Maxwell
Program Assistant
Marine Conservation Biology Institute
15805 NE 47th Court
Redmond WA 98052 USA
425.883.3017 (fax)
www.mcbi.org <http://www.mcbi.org/>   


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