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Management of High Seas Bottom Fisheries

Marine Conservation Institute, in collaboration with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, produced a series of comprehensive assessments of how bottom fisheries are being managed in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ), also known as the high seas. We evaluated the levels of seafloor protection in the high seas through the various regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs). For each RFMO, we assessed the existing bottom fisheries footprint and all bottom fisheries closures in relation to "fishable depths" and "fishable seamounts", the area that is considered shallow enough for fisheries to operate. The first report was published in 2016, with an updated report published in 2020.

Visit our interactive online mapper at the High Seas Protection Portal.

2020 Report

Preventing Biodiversity Loss in the Deep Sea: A Critique of Compliance by High Seas Fishing Nations and RFMOs with Global Environmental Commitments. Susanna Fuller, Duncan Currie, Matthew Gianni, Lyn Goldsworthy, Cassandra Rigby, Kathryn Schleit, Colin Simpfendorfer, Les Watling, Barry Weeber. Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, October 2020.

2016 Report

How much longer will it take? A ten-year review of the implementation of United Nations General Assembly resolutions 61/105, 64/72 and 66/68 on the management of bottom fisheries in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Gianni, M., Fuller, S.D., Currie, D.E.J., Schleit, K., Goldsworthy, L., Pike, B., Weeber, B., Owen, S., Friedman, A. Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, July 2016.

AnchorThe eight RFMOs and their respective 'fishable' depth limits:

RFMO Name “Fishable” Depth
CCAMLR Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources 2,200 m
GFCM General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean 1,500 m
NAFO Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization 2,000 m
NEAFC North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission 1,500 m
NPFC North Pacific Fisheries Commission 1,500 m
SEAFO South-East Atlantic Fisheries Organization 2,000 m
SIOFA South Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement 1,500 m
SPRFMO South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization 1,500 m
Photo: DSCC