Iceland harpoons deep-sea protection

Feature story - 23 November, 2006
The proposed moratorium on high-seas bottom trawling was harpooned today at the UN, as Iceland put the interests of their fishing fleets above other countries and scientific advice (sound familiar?).

The strange-looking deep sea creature known as the Blobfish (Genus Psychrolutes).

Even Canada and Spain came around in the end. 

But Iceland destroyed its own reputation as a nation with responsible fishing policies. The decision affects 64 percent of the world's oceans, and the food security of future generations.

Karen Sack, our Oceans Policy Advisor, said after an all-night wait at the UN:  "The final agreement has more loopholes in it than a fisherman's sweater, and it does nothing to significantly change the way our oceans are managed."  That's exceptionally bad news considering that a recent scientific evaulation has shown that if nothing changes, most commercial fisheries will have collapsed by 2048.

Don't blame Canada, blame Iceland

Thanks to Ocean Defenders, scientists, journalists and South Park fans all over the globe, as well as enthusiastic "squid" and "orange roughy" handing out leaflets to New York taxi drivers, even Canada and Spain supported strong action at the UN in the end.  In the last two weeks alone, Canada and Spain have received 71,266 emails from Ocean Defenders!  Other supporters included Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Island States, the USA, Brazil, India, South Africa, Chile, Germany and the EU.  However, their drive to win consensus at all costs has resulted in a weakly worded, useless piece of paper that will allow for the unregulated plunder of the high seas.

Maybe Iceland should have listened to one of itsown fishermen, thanks to him we have underwater video of a bottom trawling.  Watch his reactionwhen he sees what bottom trawling is doing to theseabed:

"The international community should be outraged that Iceland could almost singlehandedly sink deep-sea protection and the food security of future generations. Iceland should be embarrassed as should all those states that did not stand up to them and fight for the future of the oceans," Karen adds.

Arrogance and ignorance

Iceland and it's fishing cronies, opposed to the UN moratorium on high-seas bottom trawling, should realize that for the sake of their own future industries, this cannot continue. The oceans are not a bottomless resource- as recent scientific reports have confirmed. Economically speaking, the high-seas bottom trawl fleet would operate at a loss without the substantial subsidies it receives.  Of course apart from just commerical interests, the as-yet undiscovered ecosystems of the deep sea are at stake.

All is not lost

All of the countries that committed to supporting a moratorium now have the opportunity to protect vulnerable habitats from destructive fishing by tightening market access to bottom-trawled fish.  These countries can also support the establishment of a global network of marine reserves across the world's oceans, and make sure that their nations are not involved in high seas bottom trawl fishing.  They can also implement strong measures regionally to protect the deep-seas.

Take action!

Our guide to which fish are bottom-trawled can be found here. Avoid at all costs, and if you’re not sure, ask your retailers.