After two years, the UN has finally confirmed what everyone knew already: measures taken to protect deep-sea life from destructive fishing practices such as high seas bottom trawling is “woefully inadequate” and that “urgent action is required now by the international community”. Can we say, “told you so?”
Greenpeace activists use wire cables to tie the trawl doors together on the bottom trawler Ocean Reward (NZ).
It's taken two years for this UN review, launched in mid-July,
toconfirm what everyone knew already: that deep-sea life
andvulnerable habitats like cold water corals are being wiped out
by arelatively few number of extremely destructive fishing vessels.
That'stwo years in which extinctions have almost certainly occurred
and vastareas of deep sea ecosystems have been destroyed forever.
(You can see in this map of protected
areas how little of the high seas are actually protected - some
areas are mere pin points!)
"The UN must take the only step which can halt this
uncontrolleddestruction, to establish a moratorium on high seas
bottom trawlingwhen the General Assembly (UNGA) meets in October,"
says Karen Sackoceans policy advisor to Greenpeace
The review was requested by the UN General Assembly in 2004 and
wasconducted by the UN Secretary General. It is based on
submissionsby member states reporting on what they have done
individually, and asmembers of Regional Fisheries Management
Organisations (RFMOS), to stopdestructive fishing practices -
including bottom trawling - on the highseas. It concluded that,
"many fisheries are not managed untilthey are overexploited and
clearly depleted … This raises the questionof the urgent need for
interim measures in particular circumstances,pending the adoption
of conservation and management regimes."
Well we could have told them that. Actually, we did. Andwe're
not alone - Greenpeace is a member of the Deep Sea
ConservationCoalition (DSCC), an alliance of nearly 60
international environmentaland conservation organisations who have
been campaigning for amoratorium on high seas bottom trawling since
The buck stops here
Matthew Gianni from the DSCC said, "NGOs, scientists, even
governmentshave repeatedly said that the existing measures are
inadequate and thata Review would only confirm this. Sadly it is a
Review which hascost the deep oceans two years worth of
protection. This must nowbe the year when the buck passing
Our Oceans Campaigner Sari Tolvanen was even more outspoken.
"Ifthe international community fails to take action to protect the
globalcommons when the evidence is so clearcut, one must seriously
call intoquestion its ability to manage other global resources of
benefit to allhumankind," she said in response to the report.
The negotiations around a moratorium will occur at the UN
GeneralAssembly on October 4 and 5 prior to decisions being made in
Novemberon a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling.
Many of our Ocean Defenders have participated in this issue,
withgovernments receiving tens of thousands of emails asking them
to "stopthe clock" on bottom trawling.
A summary of the UN review
Download a digestible 3 page summary of the UN review prepared by our political advisor Karen
Be an Ocean Defender
Help us continue to pressure governments into calling for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling