Thursday, December 14, 2006


Final U.N. General Assembly resolution

As expected, on December 8, the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly adopted a broad international fisheries resolution that failed to include language that would have put in place a temporary moratorium on high seas bottom-trawling. Bottom trawling is a fishing method that involves commercial vessels dragging heavy nets across the sea floor, indiscriminately destroying delicate marine life in their paths.

A pathetic draft resolution adopted by the committee recommends that nations ensure vessels are not causing harm, or cease to authorize vessels flying their flag to bottom trawl on the high seas.

United States Assistant Secretary of State Claudia McMurray said "there were several countries that really didn't want any controls at all. Unfortunately the resolution comes up short. We're very disappointed this is the result we ended up with".

The UN committee's alternative measures are the status quo, leaving it up to countries to decide whether bottom trawling gear is used.

It is a tragic setback for the protection of high seas biodiversity after so much progress has been made during the last two years in gaining international support, and a majority of nations sought immediate control of high seas bottom trawling.

Some statements made on December 7th, 2006 at the U.N. Oceans Debate are provided below.

Australia (Statement by HE Frances Lisson, Ambassador and Dep. Permanent Representative):

Australia welcomes this year's resolution which we see as an important advance in international efforts to regulate high seas bottom trawling....Australia is disappointed, however, that the resolution does not contain a prohibition on bottom trawling in unmanaged high seas areas. Such a ban would have been an effective incentive for the establishment of competent and modern RFMOs, while providing protection for vulnerable marine ecosystems in the absence of such regulation.

Pacific Island Forum Nations (Stated made by Ambassador to Palau, Stuart Beck):

We consider that an interim prohibition would have been the clearest and most effective means for dealing with the impacts of bottom fishing in areas where there are no multilateral measures in place, and none in prospect. An interim prohibition would have further encouraged the development of new RFMOs for unregulated areas. We were further disappointed that a small number of States were not willing to consider a freeze on the expansion of bottom fisheries in unregulated waters from current levels.

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