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The capacity of the DSCC to implement our Seamounts Campaign at a global and multi-country/regional scale is enhanced by partnerships with our network of members, locally based NGOs, and other stakeholders.

Representing more than 100 organizations worldwide, the DSCC provides a platform for civil society, including NGOs, fish-workers’ groups, and law and policy institutes. We work in close co-operation with major national and international players to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) from bottom fishing.



The Seamounts Campaign shines a light on those countries whose vessels continue to pose a threat to deep-sea ecosystems through deep-sea bottom-trawling on seamounts, oceanic ridge systems and other underwater features on the high seas. Specifically, we’re scrutinizing the actions of Cook Island.


Through the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the European Council of Ministers, the EU adopts and implements legislation to manage its vast deep-sea fleets and fisheries.

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The Seamounts Campaign is supporting the EU’s implementation of its regulation that bans bottom fishing in all waters between 400 and 800 meters in depth and prohibits bottom fishing in any areas that are closed to protect VMEs. The DSCC is focused on ensuring that all seamounts and associated areas are closed to bottom trawling when VMEs are known to occur or likely to occur.   

The EU is also a member of key regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) where bottom trawling continues to occur (NEAFC, SPRFMO, SIOFA, NPFC – see below). The DSCC advocates for an EU position across all RFMOs that honors UN and EU commitments to protect VMEs from destructive fishing.


The RFMOs and other bodies that manage deep-sea fisheries on the high seas are:

  • North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC)
  • Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO)
  • South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO)
  • General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)
  • North Pacific Fisheries Commission (NPFC)
  • South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO)
  • South Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA)
  • Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). 


The work of scientists around the world is vital for increasing our understanding of the impacts of bottom fishing on the habitats and species of the deep sea.

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The growing body of scientific evidence showing the extent of the threat posed to marine life in seamounts and other deep-sea VMEs supports evidence-based policymaking and is helping to secure stronger protection. Key writings on this issue include:

  • The Deep Sea At Risk: Bottom trawling on seamounts” by Dr. Lissette Victorero, which profiles the severe ecological impacts that bottom trawling has on seamounts and other deep-sea VMEs. Dr. Victorero illustrates how trawling can cause extremely rapid declines and “boom and bust” cycles in fish populations, and underlines why protecting VMEs is the only way forward.
  • “Recovery of Seamount Precious Coral Beds from Heavy Trawling Disturbance” by Dr. Nicole Morgan, Dr. Amy Baco-Taylor and Dr. Brendan Roark, which tests the resilience of seamount habitats by examining sites in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and Emperor Seamount Chain. The study shows that trawled areas have extensive areas of bare substrate and trawl scars, and lower abundance and diversity of megafauna. 
  • Seamounts on the High Seas Should be Managed as Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems” by Dr. Les Watling and Dr. Peter J. Auster, which tackles the question of how we determine what areas or features are VMEs. The authors argue that, in the case of seamounts, we should stop using VME indicator species and move-on rules and instead accept that all seamounts are true and functional VMEs that should be protected in perpetuity.
  • Threats to Seamount Ecosystems and their Management” by Dr. Alex Rogers, which provides an extensive account of seamount biodiversity, the threats they face, and governance and management challenges. This report also stresses how much we still need to learn about these biodiversity hotspots and calls for a large-scale global effort to sample and study seamount ecosystems. 


UN bodies involved in deep-sea fishing issues include:

  • The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which adopts resolutions on sustainable fisheries, oceans, and the law of the sea on an annual basis. 
  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), whose Conference of Parties sets the agenda for key biodiversity protection and management issues, including the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework agreed in December 2022.
  • The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), including its Committee on Fisheries (COFI) – an intergovernmental forum where States and other stakeholders examine major international fisheries and aquaculture issues and where international agreements on fisheries are negotiated.