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WHAT IS THE DSCC?

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) was founded in 2004 in response to international concerns over the harmful impacts of deep-sea bottom trawling.

Today more than 100 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), fishers’ associations, and law and policy institutes worldwide are working together under the umbrella of the DSCC to ensure the protection of vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems. We have two main goals:

  • To remove and mitigate the greatest threats to life in the deep sea.
  • To safeguard the long-term health, integrity and resilience of deep-sea ecosystems.

HOW WE WORK

The DSCC works with scientists, NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, and governments around the world to drive action to protect the deep sea. We target States, regional and global entities, industries, and all those whose responsibilities and fulfillment – or non-fulfillment – of obligations impact the health of deep-sea ecosystems. One of the DSCC’s biggest strengths is our ability to convene a global coalition of leading deep-sea experts, organizations and champions to present a credible, united voice for deep-sea protection.

Our work is underpinned by science and social license, and we champion transparency and information-sharing.

Together, the DSCC and its members are helping to build a new framework for deep-sea protection based on international agreements, policies and obligations across multilateral, national and regional platforms.

Current priorities

Our key objective is to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) in the deep sea and conserve deep-sea species. Achieving this goal will have wide implications for the ocean as a whole, Earth systems, climate change, biodiversity and human wellbeing. Actions that the DSCC is currently prioritizing include:

  • Working to ensure that States honor and effectively implement UN resolutions that oblige nations to protect deep-sea ecosystems from damage caused by bottom fisheries on the high seas. In particular, we are campaigning for the prohibition of bottom trawling on 100% of seamounts and other similar topographical features in ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).

  • Calling on authorities and governments across the globe to issue a moratorium (official delay) on all deep-sea mining until the risks are better understood, it can be demonstrated that it will not cause damage to the marine environment, public support has been obtained, alternatives have been explored, and governance issues have been resolved.

  • Ensuring that the EU Regulations adopted in 2016 to identify and protect VMEs in the Northeast Atlantic are effectively implemented.

  • Strengthening ocean governance by encouraging the swift entry into force and implementation of the High Seas Treaty adopted in March 2023 to support the protection of biodiversity on the high seas, including the deep ocean.

  • Advancing greater understanding and recognition of the vital role played by the deep ocean as a global carbon sink, and fully integrating the deep sea into climate commitments and strategies.

PAST ACHIEVEMENTS

You can read detailed accounts of the DSCC’s past activities in our Annual Reports.

    Since our creation in 2004, the DSCC and our members have helped deliver positive changes to international law, policies and regulations to protect deep-sea ecosystems from destructive practices.

    The DSCC helped make the deep sea a dominant issue at the United Nations, resulting in the adoption of a series of UN resolutions since 2003 which commit States to preventing deep-sea fisheries from damaging deep-sea ecosystems. This has led to increased protections in many high seas areas, including a ban on bottom trawl fishing on the high seas of the Southern Ocean; the closure of most seamounts in the Northwest Atlantic to bottom fishing; and the establishment of new regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) to regulate high seas bottom fisheries in regions without existing oversight. Our work has also resulted in the adoption of more restrictive measures in national waters, including a prohibition on bottom trawl fishing below 800 meters in all EU waters.

    A broad alliance of NGOs, including the DSCC, has been engaging with the European Commission on the implementation of closures of VMEs. A key success was the September 2022 announcement of the closure of more than 16,000 square kilometers of deep sea to bottom fishing in EU waters of the Northeast Atlantic.

    The DSCC helped promote a new scientific report entitled "Undisturbed: the deep ocean’s vital role in safeguarding us from crises", published ahead of the Climate COP27. Growing engagement in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process has helped solidify the connection between deep ocean conservation and the climate crisis.

    The DSCC was influential in the UN adopting a draft resolution in December 2022 calling on high seas fishing nations to urgently take action to prevent damage to seamounts, and “recognizing the immense importance and value of deep-sea ecosystems and the biodiversity they contain.”

    To inform advocacy at RFMO and State level, the DSCC commissioned the identification and mapping of vessels authorized to bottom trawl on seamounts in ABNJ, which helped shine a spotlight on the few remaining States and vessels engaged in the practice.

    The DSCC has worked with a broad range of organizations and experts to recognize the threat of deep-sea mining; helped spark a global debate by bringing these threats into the public eye via newspapers, social media, and public petitions; and successfully raised the issue with governments and other stakeholders to generate a wave of support for a moratorium.

    Our advocacy and campaigning has helped expand support for a moratorium or pause to deep-sea mining to 21 countries, dozens of regions and parliamentarians, some of the world’s biggest companies, major financial institutions, and hundreds of scientists. This wave of support effectively stopped deep-sea mining from being given a green light at the ISA Council in July 2023.

    We have contributed to influential scientific papers that argue significant biodiversity loss is inevitable if deep-sea mining occurs, and that make the case against further exploration licenses and commercial mining.

    The DSCC’s advocacy and campaigning have contributed to stronger international ocean governance and protections by being a voice for the deep sea across multiple fora, including RFMOs, the UN General Assembly, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, the European Commission, and the negotiations on both the landmark Global Biodiversity Framework adopted in Montreal in December 2022 and the historic High Seas Treaty finalized at the UN in March 2023.

Future focus

The world is entering an ambitious new era of ocean governance and action. Thanks to the High Seas Treaty; the global target to fully protect 30% of the ocean by 2030 and ensure sustainable management of the remaining 70% included in the Global Biodiversity Framework; and the emerging Ocean/Climate dialogue; we have good reason to be optimistic. But the real work to defend the deep is not done. The DSCC’s actions will help define what the coming era looks like, and how effectively and rapidly we can achieve the world’s ocean protection goals. Our current work is laying the runway for this more ambitious future. As we forge ahead, the DSCC will continue to shine a spotlight on existing and emerging threats to the deep ocean and focus on a pathway to the consistent, comprehensive protection of the VMEs of the deep sea.

MORE INFORMATION

The DSCC was incorporated as a foundation in the Netherlands in 2013, with an affiliate in New Zealand from 2014. Grants received by the DSCC are used towards communications, advocacy, analysis, coalition building, coordination, and technical support – all relating to the objective of protecting vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems and conserving deep-sea species.

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