ATLAS partner Prof David Johnson from Seascape Consultants Ltd has just returned from the Deep Sea Conference 2019, which took place at the headquarters of the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome.
A key emphasis of the meeting was to highlight efforts by deep-seas fisheries managers in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ). Working cooperatively through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations, States have developed legally binding measures and put in significant effort to ascertain status of stocks. The meeting provided insights into governance and policy, deep-sea science and monitoring, and deep-sea management, including area-based planning and management options. A mixture of updates, developing methodologies, case studies and challenges made this an interesting and informative three days. Another strand featured the EAF-Nansen Programme (2017-2021), supporting the application of ecosystem approach to fisheries management considering climate and pollution impacts. The Programme's science plan uses the research vessel R/V Dr Fridtjof Nansen as a key tool for fieldwork and capacity building.
David highlighted the presentation of ATLAS board member Alan Leonardi on mapping and characterising deep-sea habitats in US EEZ, and how this science data have influenced management discussions. Dr Leonardi emphasised bringing together the right technologies and the right people at the right time and mentioned input to ATLAS and AORA. He also talked about an explosion of data and technological development over the next 10 years: specifically, the development of more autonomous vehicles with increased capability such as suction and biopsy samplers and widespread use of stereo photogrammetry.
David said, ‘This forward-looking meeting took place only a stone's throw away from the ancient ruins of the Circus Maximus, Forum and Colosseum. These iconic landmarks evoke thoughts of the power of the former Roman Empire, including what can be achieved and lost.’ Delegates left the conference informed by the presentations and interactive discussions; better able to synthesize the opportunities and challenges faced by these sectors; and with a desire to support sustainable deep-sea fisheries management and biodiversity conservation in the ABNJ.