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FAO works collaboratively with governments, inter-governmental organizations, international non-governmental organizations, industry and the scientific community to improve fisheries management practices, increase knowledge of and protect vulnerable areas in the deep-sea high seas. In particular, FAO and its partners:

  1. Support the implementation of sustainable fisheries management practices outlined in the FAO International Guidelines;
  2. Provide expert technical guidance, tools and resources to improve management practices;
  3. Design state-of-the-art data collection and sharing systems related to vulnerable marine ecosystems; and
  4. Facilitate dialogue, collaboration and networks among key stakeholders in order to strengthen and improve the effective management of deep-sea fisheries.

Current Project and Activities

FAO’s deep-sea fisheries programme is implemented through projects supported by various donors. These activities are part of a larger project called The Sustainable Fisheries Management and Biodiversity Conservation of Deep-sea Ecosystems in the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ) – supported by the Global Environment Facility. This project seeks to enhance sustainability in the use of deep-sea living resources and biodiversity conservation in the ABNJ through the systematic application of an ecosystem approach. It is one of four project components that make up the programme on Global sustainable fisheries management and biodiversity conservation in the Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction. Visit www.commonoceans.org for programme details. Current activities include:

  1. Support for the implementation of the International Guidelines on the Management of Deep-sea Fisheries in the High Seas – supported by Norway
    This project provides capacity development to regional management organizations and the main fishing States to implement and develop appropriate management measures for (a) sustainable fisheries, (b) the protection of marine biodiversity and (c) the conservation of marine living resources.
    Primary activities:
    • Provide guidance on collaborative arrangements and establish networks to ensure continued collaboration, awareness building and exchange among stakeholders.
    • Develop improved tools and identification guides for vulnerable deep-sea sharks and other species to be used onboard deep-sea fishing vessels
    • Organize regional workshops to raise awareness and share information on issues related to vulnerable marine ecosystems and related management measures
    • Provide technical assistance and advice on institution building and information dissemination for States, industry groups and other stakeholders in areas which are not governed by an existing regional management organization or arrangement
    • Enhance global information and collaboration between regional management organizations to share experiences and best practices


  2. Fisheries Management and Marine Conservation within a Changing Ecosystem Context Deep-sea fisheries component – supported by Japan
    Within the context of a larger project, this component aims at developing technical guidance on best practices in the management of deep-sea fisheries in the high seas.
    Primary activities:
    • Develop case studies illustrating best practices for fleet management and vessel operation
    • Develop species identification guides for potentially vulnerable deep-sea species (sharks, corals, etc.)
    • Disseminate information, raise awareness on and monitor the implementation of the FAO International Guidelines
    • Improve information on deep-sea fisheries through a programme for scientific, technical and policy support to the implementation of the Guidelines and updates of the Worldwide Review of Bottom Fisheries in the High Seas.


  3. The Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem (VME) Database (Développement d’une banque de données sur les écosystèmes marins vulnérables en haute mer) – supported by France
    This project will create a space for the collection, description, analysis and publication of all data relevant to existing, emerging or potential vulnerable marine ecosystems. It will comprise documents, maps and tables and will form a tool for facilitating Guideline implementation. The database will be developed in collaboration with deep-sea regional management organizations, the scientific community and industry. A VME network will also be established to act as a forum to discuss scientific issues, data sources and exchange mechanisms.


FAO is grateful for the generous support for its deep-sea high seas activities from

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