Sustainable Fisheries Management and Biodiversity Conservation of Deep-sea Living Resources and Ecosystems in ABNJ

Objective

Enhance sustainability in the use of deep-sea living resources and biodiversity conservation in the ABNJ through the systematic application of an ecosystem approach.

This project will focus on four areas:

  • Improved implementation of existing policy and legal frameworks
  • Reduced significant adverse impacts on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) and Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs)
  • Improved planning and adaptive management for deep-sea fisheries in ABNJ
  • Development and testing of a methodology for area-based planning

About

Deep-sea fisheries in the high seas occur in waters beyond national jurisdiction on continental slopes or isolated oceanic topographic structures such as seamounts, ridge systems and banks.

These deep-sea fisheries comprise a small yet valuable part of ABNJ activities.  FAO estimates that the total global catch in 2006 of approximately 60 deep-sea species was around 250 000 tonnes worth more than US$400 million and involved at least 27 flag States. From a biodiversity viewpoint, the ecosystems in which these fisheries take place are unique – the seamounts and the water column above them serve as habitats for many benthic organisms and marine mammals. The potential negative impact of fishing on these critical habitats that support globally significant biodiversity has become an issue of international concern. In response, concerted efforts by many organizations, such as the regional fisheries management organizations (RFMO/As) responsible for the management of fish stocks in ABNJ, have been undertaken. This project seeks to build on such efforts, make use of best practices and address other key issues necessary for the global sustainable use and conservation of these marine resources.

It will contribute to improving deep-sea fisheries management and biodiversity conservation through the harmonization of conservation and sustainable use following the principles of the ecosystem approach, while testing innovative and appropriate management tools. The successful implementation of this project would represent a significant step towards the sustainable use of deep-sea fish stocks as well as protection of associated bycatch species, ecosystems, habitats and biodiversity in ABNJ.