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Deep-Sea Fisheries of the High Seas: The Management Impasse

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image of The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law

This article briefly reviews the current status of high seas bottom fishing and its impacts. It then traces the evolution of major intergovernmental discussions on these issues up to the 5th meeting of the UN Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea in June 2004, including the involvement of scientists and conservation organisations. Next, it highlights the four key arguments presented to date on the need for immediate action to curtail high seas bottom trawling: that it is largely unregulated and unsustainable, severely impacts deep-sea biodiversity, and is a highly destructive fishing technique. In addition, it draws attention to an important emerging argument on equity considerations. Rights and duties regarding conservation of sedentary species on the coastal state's continental margin beyond 200 nautical miles are also considered. A final section suggests possible solutions to the management impasse regarding high seas bottom trawl fisheries, covering the authority to regulate, the need for deep ocean assessment, strengthening the international community's stake in deep-sea conservation and some of the tools available.


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