High seas of South Pacific protected from bottom trawling

A landmark agreement between 21 countries will restrict the controversial practice of bottom-trawling in the high seas of the South Pacific. The deal, which takes effect in September, affects a quarter of the world’s oceans, and is the first step toward implementing a U.N. resolution on bottom-trawling from December. “It can be done, it has been done, and it’s time for all countries to do the same in all other ocean regions,” says Matthew Gianni of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition. Some sensitive areas will be declared off-limits to bottom-trawling, which uses weighted nets and rollers that indiscriminately destroy coral reefs and suffocate marine life, while permission to trawl in others will require protective measures including observers and monitoring systems. However, since the restrictions are voluntary, members of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization — including the U.S., New Zealand, China, Russia, France, and others — will have to be trusted to behave.