High & Deep Seas
Until recently, it was widely believed that the oceans held an unlimited bounty of fish, an inexhaustible food source for global humanity. We now know that this is not the case. A lack of effective regulation, coupled with a system of subsidies that goes against the best scientific advice, has led to our ocean becoming an unregulated ‘Wild West’.
Our ability to fish ever further and deeper, to send boats out to sea for months and even years, supported by vast refrigerated ‘mother vessels’, means that many fish species are declining at an unsustainable rate and, in some cases, being pushed towards extinction.
We are helping to address perverse and unsustainable fishing practices by:
Supporting advocacy and civil society engagement to combat destructive fishing practices.
Work by NGOs to pressure supranational bodies such as the United Nations and European Union into strengthening legislation to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems is complex but critical work. We support groups that are challenging destructive fishing in international waters, and supporting improvement and implementation of deep-sea fishing regulations in the European Union.
Supporting a push for high level improvements in the regulation of fisheries subsidies.
Globally, fisheries subsidies paid by governments amount to around $35 billion per year, and 80 per cent of these go to industrial fisheries. UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.6 calls for an end to harmful fisheries subsidies by 2020, but there has been little meaningful reform to date. Increasing civil society action to put pressure on governments and international decision-making bodies is key to bringing about this change.
Supporting work to increase global transparency on fisheries subsidies.
It is difficult to hold individual countries to account on their spending on subsidies as there is little information available, and any information that exists is often shrouded in opacity. Research and communication around what governments are actually paying to prop up damaging industries is a key step towards phasing out these harmful subsidies.
* Images (L to R): NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research; Pixabay; Shutterstock
“Even without subsidies, people tend to overfish and compete for fish. So a situation that was already dire has been made worse. We now have large fishing enterprises competing for a limited supply of fish, catalyzed by taxpayer money.”
Dr Ussif Rashid Sumaila, University of British Columbia
A voice for the deep
Partner Profile: The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition
The DSCC is a coalition of over 70 NGOs, fishers organisations and law and policy institutes which advocates for better management of deep-sea ecosystems globally. The coalition has played a key role in achieving significant improvements in the management of deep-sea fisheries both in the EU and on the high seas. In 2016, long-term campaigning from the DSCC and its partners resulted in a ground-breaking change in legislation in the EU, with the banning of deep-sea fishing below 800 metres and areas harbouring vulnerable marine ecosystems.
Their advocacy and campaigning work at the UN has led to five UNGA Resolutions, each stronger than the last, which have laid the groundwork for stricter regulation of deep-sea fishing by national governments and regional management organisations. Results from these resolutions include, substantial areas being closed to bottom fishing, a ban on bottom gillnets, and bans by certain Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and states on bottom trawling.
“If anything could make me happy, it would be if we were able to contribute to more transparency on the financial side of things i.e. public subsidies. I think transparency would make it much harder to give financial incentives for these damaging activities. Secondly, we need to challenge and end the financial incentive that is fuelling overfishing, keeping overcapacity afloat and driving the destruction of the ocean.”
Claire Nouvian, Bloom Association