The FAO International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-sea Fisheries in the High Seas
The FAO International Guidelines for the Management of Deep-sea Fisheries in the High Seas provide recommendations on governance frameworks and management of deep-sea fisheries with the aim to ensure long-term conservation and sustainable use of marine living resources in the deep sea and to prevent significant adverse impacts on vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs).
The guidelines also set out a framework for data collection, assessments and monitoring, control, and surveillance. All management measures taken by States or Regional Fisheries Management Organizations and Arrangements (RFMO/As) should be in compliance with other international instruments for the management of deep-sea fisheries, be based on the precautionary approach, and the ecosystem approach to fisheries.
They also call on States to cooperate through RFMO/As and/or establish and strengthen RFMO/As to this end. While RFMO/As are given a central place in the management of these fisheries, the Guidelines also offer advice on interim measures that may be taken in areas where no competent RFMO/As exist or where an RFMO/A is in the process of developing the range of policies and measures required for effective management of deep-sea fisheries.
The Guidelines specifically address major concerns about vulnerable marine ecosystems, providing:
Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem Designation Criteria
The following criteria can be used to identify a VME:
Significant Adverse Impacts
Significant adverse impacts, as described in the guidelines, are those that compromise ecosystem integrity (i.e. ecosystem structure or function) in a manner that:
Development and adoption of the Guidelines
These Guidelines were developed through a participatory process involving fisheries experts, fishery managers from governments, the fishing industry, academia and non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations. Building on a preparatory process that had taken place between 2006 and 2008, the final text of the Guidelines was negotiated and adopted at a Technical Consultation by representatives of FAO members in August 2008.
The Guidelines are voluntary and constitute an instrument of reference to help States and RFMO/As in formulating and implementing appropriate measures for the management of deep-sea fisheries in the high seas. Their adoption represents a major step forward in addressing both fisheries management and marine biodiversity conservation in an integrated manner and contributes to the development and strengthening of the applicable legal and institutional framework.