Orange Roughy Fishery. Image courtesy of Malcolm Clark, NIWA, NZ

Standing stocks and production of many biological resources in the more easily accessible areas of the ocean (above 200 meters) have decreased in the last half-century due to overharvesting and cumulative habitat degradation. In an effort to find more exploitable resources, fisheries have extended into deep-ocean habitats, often beyond national jurisdiction. Advances in technology have enabled increasing access to deep-ocean fish populations, often before adequate science-based management plans are considered or implemented. The effects in some cases (e.g., orange roughy) have been catastrophic. In addition, deep-ocean fisheries have severely impacted seamount and cold-water coral habitats.

This working group will act to coordinate planning across multiple management regimes, and promote a precautionary approach to deep-ocean management implemented via international cooperation, which is critically needed as the demand for deep-ocean biological resources increases.   Key questions to be addressed include recovery from disturbance, mismatch between scale of studies and impacts, whether one set of VMEs can be applied across biomes, identification of trends and knowledge gaps in deep-sea fisheries and stocks, differentiating between natural variability and human impacts, managing MPA benefit expectation, monitoring, management settling precedents and cross linkage with mining.

 Current Working Group Activities:

  1. Workshop to draft EIA template for use by RFMOs in managing their deep-sea bottom trawl fisheries (Darling Marine Center, Aug 29-30 2017)
  2. Further reviews and input to RFMOs and UNGA on conducting EIAs, identifying vulnerable marine ecosystems and other issues related to the implementation of UNGA deep-sea fisheries resolutions in the lead up to 2020 – the year of the next UNGA review of deep-sea fisheries
  3. Adapt UNGA/RFMO approach to protecting vulnerable deep seabed ecosystems to ISA regulations on deep-sea mining regulations (underway)
  4. Contribute to the DOSI/FAO report on climate change, VMEs and deep-sea fisheries
  5. Link with BBNJ/Implementing agreement negotiations – conservation of biodiversity in ABNJ in relation to deep-sea fisheries
  6. Support deep sea implementation of SDG 14.2 “By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans”
  7. Can DOSI facilitate Data Poor programs via RFMOs?

If you are interested in participating in this working group (currently 40 members), please contact WG Leads: Matt Gianni (, Les Watling ( and Claire Nouvian (