Greenpeace response to the UN Secretary General’s review of action taken by states to protect deep-sea life:

Press release - 14 July, 2006
Today’s United Nations Secretary General’s report of measures taken by states to protect vulnerable deep-sea life from destructive fishing practices such as high seas bottom trawling has confirmed that the protection these areas receive is woefully inadequate and that urgent action is required now by the international community.

"It's taken two years for this UN review to confirm what everyone knew already: that  deep-sea life and vulnerable habitats like cold water corals are being wiped out by a relatively few number of extremely destructive fishing vessels. That's two years in which extinctions have almost certainly occurred, and in which vast swathes of deep ocean ecosystem have been irreplaceably destroyed by bottom trawling. The UN must take the only step which can halt this uncontrolled destruction, to establish a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling when the General Assembly (UNGA) meets in October," says Karen Sack oceans policy advisor to Greenpeace International.

The report was requested by the UNGA in 2004 and was conducted by the UN Secretary General.  It is based on submissions by member states reporting on what they have done individually, and as members of Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOS), to stop destructive fishing practices - including bottom trawling - on the high seas.  It concluded that "many fisheries are not managed until they are overexploited and clearly depleted and, because of the high vulnerability of deep-sea species to exploitation and their low potential for recovery, this is of particular concern for these stocks. This raises the question of the urgent need for interim measures in particular circumstances, pending the adoption of conservation and management regimes."

Greenpeace is a member of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) an alliance of nearly 60 international environmental and conservation organisations who have been campaigning for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling since 2003 and condemned the UNGA's postponement of such action pending the Review. 

Matthew Gianni from the DSCC said: "NGOs, scientists, even Governments have repeatedly said that the existing measures are inadequate and that a Review would only confirm this.  Sadly it is a Review which has cost the deep oceans two years worth of protection.  This must now be the year when the buck passing stops."

"Given the outcome of the UN Review as well as the support of the international scientific and NGO community, and a growing number of countries from Palau to Sweden and Brazil for this action, if the international community fails to take action to protect the global commons when the evidence is so clear cut, one must seriously call into question its ability to manage other global resources of benefit to all humankind" said Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner.

The negotiations around a moratorium will occur at the UNGA on October 4 and 5 prior to decisions being made in November on a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling.

Other contacts: Karen Sack, Greenpeace International Oceans Policy Advisor, Washington D.C. +1 202 415 5403Sari Tolvanen, Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner +358505014472Matthew Gianni, Political Advisor, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition +31 646 168899