By Stephen Leahy
Nov 23 (IPS) – Iceland and a few other fishing nations have successfully undermined a three-year international effort to place a moratorium on destructive deep-sea trawling.
Environmentalists say that the agreement reached at a U.N. meeting early Thursday morning puts the commercial interests of a few hundred trawlers from a handful of nations ahead of the international community and ignores the advice of the scientific community.
“The final agreement has more loopholes in it than a fisherman’s sweater,” said Karen Sack, an oceans policy advisor with Greenpeace International, who has been monitoring the negotiations at the U.N.
“The oceans are in crisis. It (the agreement) does nothing to significantly change the way our oceans are managed,” Sack told IPS.
Scientists and conservationists had hoped for a moratorium on bottom trawling in the open ocean.
“Iceland refused to endorse any measures on the unregulated high seas,” said Susanna Fuller, a marine biologist with Canada’s Ecology Action Centre.
Australia, Chile and other nations were extremely angry at Iceland’s willingness to sacrifice vital fish habitat in the high seas for its short-term fishing interests, said Fuller, who attended the meetings in New York as an observer.
While New Zealand, the Pacific Island States, the United States, Brazil, India, South Africa, Germany and even previously reluctant Spain and Canada supported stronger action, the desire to achieve a consensus meant Iceland’s interests won out over common sense and the science, Fuller told IPS.
Scientific evidence of the need to halt unregulated deep-sea or bottom trawling is overwhelming.