Common Oceans - A partnership for sustainability in the ABNJ

Sharing experiences and showcasing innovative research for sustainable deep-sea fisheries

A summary of the ABNJ Deep Seas Meeting on 7-9 May

8 October 2019

It has been almost 5 years since the Common Oceans ABNJ Deep Sea Project was initiated, and by 2019 the Project will have finalized all its activities. Over the years, the Project has contributed to improving deep-sea fisheries management and biodiversity conservation in the areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ), following the principles of the ecosystem approach while testing innovative and appropriate management tools.

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Meeting participants of the ABNJ Deep Sea Meeting 2019 © FAO

To showcase existing knowledge, practices and innovative research for sustainable deep-sea fisheries management and biodiversity conservation in the ABNJ, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the SponGES Project consortium, organized a meeting – the ABNJ Deep Sea Meeting 2019 – that took place on 7-9 May 2019, at FAO Headquarters in Rome, Italy.

Over 40 participants, including representatives from partner organizations and other stakeholders from multiple sectors within the ABNJ, attended the three-day meeting. The meeting was opened by Árni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General of the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, who noted that while significant progress has been made in the management of deep sea fisheries and in the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems, the ABNJ still faces threats. These include the impacts of climate change, ocean acidification, loss of biodiversity, and pollution. Manuel Barange, Deputy-Director of the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, noted that the ABNJ Deep Seas Project began at an opportune time in 2014. Not only was there momentum arising from the UNGA resolutions on the management of deep-sea fisheries on the high seas, but the discussions on a proposed international legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in ABNJ were also gaining traction.

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Takehiro Nakamura, Senior Officer and Coordinator of the Marine Ecosystems Unit of UN
Environment, Manuel Barange, Deputy-Director of the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture
Department and Árni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General of the FAO Fisheries and
Aquaculture Department, at the opening of the ABNJ Deep Sea Meeting 2019 © FAO

Building on the achievements of the Common Oceans ABNJ Deep Sea Projects and the SponGES Project, the participants were then invited to give presentations on key topics and discuss emerging issues concerning ABNJ governance and deep-sea research, monitoring and management over the next three days. "During this meeting we learned a lot about the science undertaken, both in terms of information generated from the Deep Sea Project, but also from partners such as the SponGES Project and work that's being done by the EAF Nansen Project", said William Emerson, coordinator of the Common Oceans ABNJ Deep Sea Project. "It will help us understand where we're at but also what we can do in the future, to improve our knowledge of deep-sea fisheries".

The report of the ABNJ Deep Sea Meeting 2019 will be made available shortly. Full meeting programme is available here, and all pictures from the event can be accessed on FAOs Flickr account here

The Common Oceans ABNJ Deep Seas Project is funded by the Global Environment Fund and implemented by FAO and the UN Environment Programme. The partnership brings together a broad range of partners, including regional fisheries bodies responsible for the management of deep-sea fisheries, fishing industry partners, and international organizations to achieve sustainable fisheries management and biodiversity conservation of deep-sea living resources in the ABNJ.

For further information, please contact: 

  • Dr William Emerson, William Emerson, Coordinator of the Common Oceans ABNJ Deep Sea Project, FAO | william.emerson@fao.org
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre
Deep-sea Sponge Grounds Ecosystems of the North Atlantic