After days of negotiations, U.N. fails to pass high-seas bottom-trawling ban

In a roughy outcome for conservationists, the U.N. failed to adopt a high-seas bottom-trawling ban supported by countries including the U.S. and Australia. The controversial fishing method, currently used by 11 countries including ban-busters Iceland and Russia, involves dragging vast nets and coral-crunching rollers across the sea floor. It has been deemed “highly destructive” and “likely to pose significant risks to [deep-sea] biodiversity, including the risk of species extinction” by the World Conservation Union, and more than 60 conservation groups had spent over two years lobbying for the ban. But the final agreement, reached after days of negotiations, relies on regional fisheries management groups to monitor the practice instead. Such groups oversee a mere 25 percent of the high seas. The new deal “has more loopholes in it than a fisherman’s sweater,” says Karen Sack, oceans policy adviser for Greenpeace. “It’s exactly what states are supposed to be doing anyway. It’s nothing new.”