Deep Sea Conservation Coalition

Deep Sea Conservation Coalition Logo The ocean depths were once considered just a setting for shipwrecks, monster squid and the primordial ooze, but over the past several decades scientists have discovered a previously unknown wealth of biodiversity. The dark depths of our oceans are home to cold-water corals, sponge fields, seamounts, hydrothermal vents and a multitude of other ecosystems that shelter strange and mysterious creatures found nowhere else on Earth. But this extraordinarily rich and fragile deep-sea life is under threat from a range of human economic activities. Those posing the greatest direct current or imminent physical threat are fishing practices – the most destructive being deep-sea bottom trawling—and deep seabed mining.

PDF Celebrating 10 Years of the Deep Sea Coalition Condition Page 1The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition was founded in 2004 to address the issue of bottom trawling on the high seas in the absence of an effective regime for the management of deep-sea fisheries on the high seas and in response to international concerns over the harmful impacts of deep-sea bottom trawling. Working with scientists, NGOs, intergovernmental organizations and numerous governments, the DSCC has effectively and consistently targeted the United Nations General Assembly and other international fora to call for action.

From the beginning the DSCC has been focused on achieving two overarching goals:

  • To substantially reduce the greatest threats to life in the deep seas; and
  • To safeguard the long-term health, integrity, and resilience of deep-sea ecosystems.

Our objective is to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems and conserve deep sea species, recognizing important precedents set for wider ocean conservation.

Today over 70 organizations worldwide are working together under the umbrella of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) to protect cold-water corals and vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems. We are:

  • Calling for States to honour their commitments made at the United Nations General Assembly to protect deep-sea species and ecosystems on the high seas from the harmful impacts of fishing.
  • Calling on the European Parliament and the Council of EU Fisheries Ministers to adopt a strong new regulation for the management of deep-sea fishing in the Northeast Atlantic.
  • Calling on the International Seabed Authority to put in place precautionary measures, including no-mining areas, comprehensive systems of protected areas, and the application of the best available science and management practices.

In 2013, the DSCC became a foundation in the Netherlands. Our Board of Directors is composed of:

Chair — Lance Morgan
Secretary — Sebastian Losada
Treasurer — Susanna Fuller

Grants received by the DSCC are used toward communications, advocacy, coordination and technical support relating to our objective of protecting vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems and conserving deep sea species. According to the foundation’s bylaws, the members of the Board of Directors will not receive any remuneration in such capacity, be it directly or indirectly.

Richard Branson: The Future of the Deep Ocean is Ours to decide

Why we need to mobilize against deep-sea bottom
trawling: Claire Nouvian at TEDxAUCollege

1) The deep sea starts beyond the shallower continental shelf and includes the slope and rise of the continental margin, deep-ocean basins and plains, trenches, mid-ocean ridge systems, smaller ridge systems, sea-mounts, plateaus and other underwater features rising from the deep ocean floor. This area constitutes over 90 percent of the ocean bottom and mostly lies beyond 200 nautical miles from shore.

2) Virtually all bottom trawling activity in the high seas is being conducted by 11 of the world’s wealthier nations: Denmark/Faroe Islands, Estonia, Iceland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia and Spain. The European Union (EU), in particular, is the epicenter of deep sea bottom trawling. In 2001, EU countries took approximately 60 percent of the high seas bottom trawl catch. The same year, Spain accounted for approximately two-thirds of the reported EU catch and 40 percent of the reported global catch in high seas bottom trawl fisheries.

Deep Sea Conservation Coalition saving coral reefs for research and enjoyment Our Current Focus

  • To substantially reduce the greatest threats to life in the deep seas; and
  • To safeguard the long-term health, integrity, and resilience of deep-sea ecosystems.

Our objective also remains unchanged: Securing permanent protection for vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems and species from the harmful impacts of deep-sea fishing and other human activities.

Toward these ends, the DSCC work in 2013-2014 consists of:

  1. Regional and national implementation of United Nations General Assembly bottom fishing resolutions. The DSCC will continue to actively engage regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and other relevant bodies and processes to promote the adoption of legally binding regulations to implement the United Nations General Assembly resolutions for deep-sea fisheries on the high seas.
  2. New European Union deep-sea fisheries legislation. The DSCC will campaign for the adoption of strong legislation by the European Parliament and Council of Fisheries Ministers to regulate deep-sea fishing within EU waters and on the high seas of the Northeast Atlantic.
  3. International Seabed Authority. The DSCC will ramp up its presence at the negotiating table on deep seabed mining to ensure that the International Seabed Authority puts in place an adequate framework of precautionary measures – including no-mining areas, comprehensive systems of protected areas, and the application of the best available science and management practices — to protect the deep-sea environment from the potential ravages of deep seabed mining.
  4. Preparation for the United Nations General Assembly 2015 review of implementation of Resolutions 59/25 (2004), 61/105 (2006) 64/72 (2009), 66/68 (2011). The DSCC will provide an independent global assessment of progress and work with key governments to ensure a rigorous United Nations review and the necessary outcomes. It will continue to call for a halt to deep-sea fishing on the high seas until the required conservation measures are in effect and implemented and propose further steps as necessary, to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) and deep-sea species. Toward these ends, the DSCC will raise public awareness and support for protecting high seas biodiversity, and collaborate with scientists to bring robust and best available scientific information into the United Nations General Assembly negotiations. It will seek to improve United Nations oversight of the commitments by countries to protect biodiversity on the high seas from the harmful impacts of deep-sea fisheries – and in so doing set an important precedent for future United Nations oversight of other high seas activities.

The Deep Sea: Amazing Facts

Deep Sea Conservation Coalition Hydrothermal Vents The life forms living hear hydro-thermal vents, unlike any other life forms on earth, do not rely on photosynthesis and the sun for their energy but on chemicals coming from beneath the surface of the earth.

Of the estimated 500,000 to 10 million species living in the deep sea, the majority are yet to be discovered.

Approximately 98 percent of the oceans’ species live in, on or just above the floor of the sea.

The estimated number of seamounts ranges from 30,000 to 100,000.

Seamounts are home to a breathtaking array of species (for example, over 850 species were recently found on seamounts in the Tasman and Coral Seas).

Norther Red Sea Coral Reefs are beautiful and must be protected, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition 15 percent or more of the breathtaking array of species being found on seamounts may be endemic, meaning that they are unique to that area. Because of this, each unsampled seamount is a potential source of numerous undiscovered species. The Coral and Tasman Sea seamounts have endemism rates of about 30 percent

Two-thirds of all known coral species live in waters that are deep, dark, and cold—some live three miles deep and are able to survive in -2°C.

Some cold-water corals are 5,000-8,500 years old or more, and some grow into beautiful structures that rise up to 35 meters high.

Deep-sea corals, sponges and other habitat-forming organisms provide protection from currents and predators, nurseries for young fish, and feeding, breeding, and spawning areas for hundreds of thousands of species.

Large sharks and school of hangers on small fishCommercially important deep-water fish and crustacean populations found in the high seas include crabs, shrimp, cod, Pacific cod, orange roughy, armorhead, grenadier, Patagonian toothfish (aka Chilean sea bass), jacks, snappers, porgies, sharks, groupers, rockfish, Atka mackerel, and sablefish.

Deep-sea species tend to be slow growing, late maturing and low in reproductive capacity. Many deep-water fish species live 30 years or more. Some, such as orange roughy, can live up to 150 years.

Because deep-sea species live in rarely disturbed environments and tend to be slow growing, late maturing and endemic, they are exceptionally vulnerable to extinction.

Polyp Close Up, Deep Sea Conservation Coalition Deep-sea coral and sponge communities are largely untapped sources of natural products with enormous potential as pharmaceuticals, enzymes, pesticides, cosmetics, and other commercial products, for example:

  • Gorgonian corals produce antibiotics; compounds found in certain deep-sea sponges are potent immuno suppressive and anti-cancer agents;
  • some coral species contain the pain-killing compounds known as pseudopterosians;
  • seafans contain high concentrations of prostaglandins (compounds used to treat asthma and heart disease).

Ancient deep-sea corals provide valuable records of climate conditions that may assist our understanding of global climate change.