Ecology Action Centre Welcomes UN General Assembly Call for Increased Efforts to Protect Deep Sea Biodiversity From Bottom Fishing


Source: Anna Metaxas, Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University; Martha Nizinski, NOAA/NMFS, USA; CSSF/ROPOSPhoto source: Anna Metaxas, Department of Oceanography, Dalhousie University; Martha Nizinski, NOAA/NMFS, USA; CSSF/ROPOS

Halifax, NS – Yesterday, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, countries adopted a resolution calling for increased efforts to protect deep-ocean species and ecosystems from the destructive impacts of deep-sea fishing. This resolution follows a recent recommitment by Canada to leadership at the UN, and attendance this past week by Fisheries Minister Dominic Leblanc at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Cancun, Mexico.

The resolution was adopted following a ten-year review of the implementation of landmark UN resolutions committing high seas fishing nations to stop damaging vulnerable areas of the deep ocean and to regulate all deep-sea fishing consistent with sustainability obligations under international law. The UN concluded that fishing nations have still not done enough. 

The UN reiterated calls for prohibiting bottom fisheries, such as deep-sea trawling, in areas where vulnerable deep-sea habitats such as cold-water coral reefs, coral gardens, and deep-sea sponge grounds are known or likely to occur.  The new resolution emphasizes the importance of conducting comprehensive prior Environmental Impact Assessments and – for the first time – calls on countries factor the impact of climate change and ocean acidification into protecting deep sea habitats and be particularly precautionary in regard to the catch or bycatch of vulnerable, threatened and endangered species such as deep-sea sharks.

Political Advisor to the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, Matthew Gianni said: “The original deep-sea resolution by the UN General Assembly in 2006 was a major breakthrough moment in ocean conservation and marked an important turning point in the free for all attitude to the exploitation of the deep-ocean. High seas fishing nations must fulfill their commitments and obligations to protect the global deep-ocean commons for the benefit of all of us.”

 “We have seen the positive change incentivized by the UNGA resolutions, with 380,000km2 of fragile seafloor ecosystems protected from bottom fishing just outside Canada’s 200 mile limit,” says Dr. Susanna Fuller, Senior Marine Coordinator at the Halifax based Ecology Action Centre, and active member of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition. “This latest resolution sets a clear path for further actions, that must be taken as a matter of urgency, in order to both protect biodiversity and ensure good global governance. We also know that commitments at the UN have catalyzed important actions in Canada.”

For more information contact:

Susanna D. Fuller, Senior Marine Conservation Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre @sdfuller

Matt Gianni, Political Advisor for the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, Matthew Gianni


The DSCC published a ten-year review of the actions taken by fishing nations to implement the UN resolutions at

Areas protected from bottom fishing outside Canada’s 200 mile limit in the Northwest Atlantic, as a result of implementation of the United Nations General Assembly Sustainable Fisheries Resolutions between 2004-2011.

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