Marine Biodiversity:
The current legal framework for the High Seas makes it too easy for unsustainable and destructive fishing practices to happen. Ecosystems and marine life are imperiled.

We identify national laws per country and take civil action to sue to protect their natural resources for their citizens or nature. This cascade action positively ripples around the world; one case at a time. Our lawsuits cover overfishing, shark finning, bottom trawling, Illegal, unreported or unregulated (IUU fishing), Incursions into protected waters, human rights abuses


Pollution is causing Ocean Acidification and is impacting phytoplankton populations, and could lead to the collapse of marine ecosystems by 2045:

  • The ocean forms the largest carbon sink on Earth, absorbing 30% of all CO2 produced from fossil fuel emissions. Phytoplankton produce 50-80% of our oxygen and sequester 50-80% of our CO2 
  • Marine plankton are the root of the marine food chain, the lungs of the planet and our life support system. They are seriously impacted by maring plastics and toxins from chemicals (especially lipophilic oil-like chemicals combined with microplastic & black carbon from incomplete burning of fossil fuels).
  • Toxic chemicals accumulated in plankton become more concentrated as they pass up the trophic levels to shrimps, fish, whales and eventually humans -  a process called bioamplification).
  • Marine microplastic + black carbon particles combined with lipophilic ‘forever chemicals’ are toxic to plankton. The particles + chemicals impact the entire food chain and allow CO2 to accumulate contributing to Ocean Acidification -tracking to a statistical collapse of the marine ecosystem by 2045 if pH drops to pH7.95. Marine life in the world’s oceans is the primary regulator of our atmosphere and our climate change.
  • 80% of the world has no municipal wastewater treatment, coupled with deforestation and agricultural run-off there is a combination of excessive nutrients, toxic forever chemicals and microplastics being discharged into the environment. Nutrient pollution causes coastal algal blooms followed by oxygen deficient dead zones. The toxic forever chemicals and microplastics, impact plankton in coastal zones and over the deep ocean everywhere. There are no parts of the marine ecosystems that are not affected by anthropogenic pollution.
  • Herbicides, pesticides, molluscicides and fungicides are destroying the soil biome, ecology of rivers and marine ecosystems. It is crazy to grow our food using toxic chemicals and to not think they are going to have an impact on the wider ecosystem upon which our survival and nature depends upon.
  • If we do not address marine plastic and chemical pollution and ocean acidification, we are heading for a disastrous scenario. Oceanic pH was 8.17 in the 1940’s, it is now 8.03. It must not drop to 7.95. 25% marine life depends on coral reefs, 50% remaining life in the ocean is from forms of carbonate. If pH drops to 7.95, over 50% of marine life will have dissolved or will be predisposed to infection and climate change. This could result in the loss of all seals, birds, whales, fish, and food supply for 3 billion people.
  • What can we do? 1. Ensure that we demand better managed and contained water sewage and water treatment systems that are not discharged into waterways – and they are treated to remove these toxics 2. Restrain or remove chemicals in agriculture that end up in the waterways – or ensure they do not reach any waterways 3. Look for household products that contain toxic chemicals for you and your family and remove anything containing microplastics (Yuka is a good source).


Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Treaty:

  • Starting the 15th of August 2022, the United Nations hosted the 5th Intergovernmental Conference on the High Seas Treaty - the new UN treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).
  • In order to ensure ocean resilience, it is critical that the BBNJ Treaty establishes maximum protection of multiple levels of marine biodiversity through ecologically representative and well-connected networks of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).
  • However, fish and other exploited species are excluded from the scope of the argument. Hence why it is essential for the BBNJ treaty policy makers must be well-informed by global scientific initiatives including the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021 - 2030.
  • A BBNJ Treaty based on the principles of safeguarding resilience could help marine ecosystems cope with the anthropogenic (originating in human activity) environmental threats they are currently facing, and improve the effectiveness of management activities.
  • BBNJ can allow the international community to redress critical issues including biodiversity loss, pollution, climate change, ecosystem degradation and declining fisheries in an integrated and ecosystem-based manner.
  • A research article (Gjerde K.M., Yadav S. S., 2021) suggests 7 ways that the BBNJ treaty could stimulate coordinated and integrated action at both global and regional levels, these include:
  1. Overarching rules, goals and objectives.
  2. Formal and informal conflict resolution mechanisms.
  3. Robust global institutional arrangements.
  4. Strengthened global, regional and sectoral bodies with shared and overlapping responsibility for biodiversity conservation.
  5. Strengthened cooperation through integrated ecosystem assessments and strategic action programmes at ecologically meaningful scales that could include areas within and beyond national jurisdiction.
  6. Learning exchange mechanisms within and across regions.
  7. Strengthened regional and national capacities for ecosystem-based management in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).



Yellowfin Tuna populations are heading for collapse by 2026 - The IOTC can prevent it:

  • Forecasts predict that Yellowfin Tuna populations are on the edge of collapse (70% reduction in biomass that occurs over a decade) and it will take place by 2026. A 20% reduction of 2014 catch levels would prevent this and allow stocks to rebuild.
  • At the 25th Session of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) an interim rebuild plan for Yellowfin Tuna was adopted and came into effect on Jan 1st 2022. Unfortunately it may not be very effective as 5 countries (India, Indonesia, Iran, Oman and Madagascar) objected to it.
  • Improved management of the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) was also demanded as between 2016 and 2021 the bycatch of juvenile Yellowfin Tuna increased from 26% to 37% in FAD based fisheries yet no effort has been made to limit FAD effort.
  • The interim measure for Yellowfin Tuna will be up for revision in 2022 post ‘stock assessment’ which will be undertaken by the IOTC scientific committee. Hopefully a stronger rebuilding plan can be agreed upon including limiting the usage of FADs.


Discussions Initiated to protect Indian Ocean Tuna as demand soars:

  • The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), with representatives from coastal countries from Australia to Kenya and major fishing regions of the European Union, met on the 8th of March 2022 to debate quotas for Yellowfin Tuna.
  • This comes after environmentalists warned that the species is at risk of collapse due to overfishing, climate change and pollution.
  • The majority of fish are caught by the French and Spanish fishing fleets using industrial methods such as ‘purse seine’ that often net juvenile Yellowfin that haven’t begun reproducing yet. Coastal nations want to limit Europe’s distant-water fleets.
  • The situation has become so severe that British supermarkets Tesco and Co-Op and Belgian retailer Colruyt pledged last year to stop buying Indian Ocean Yellowfin Tuna unless a plan is adopted to repopulate Yellowfin Tuna populations.
  • The International Union of Conservation of Nature has had the species on its “red list” for nearly a decade. Yet the total global catch has risen by about one-third, to nearly 450,000 metric tons annually, according to the Blue Marine Foundation advocacy group, which said that populations will “collapse”.
  • The Maldives wants the Yellowfin catch to be cut by 15% from 2015 levels, when the IOTC scientists first agreed they were being overfished. Demand for Yellowfin is booming as its light meat is widely used for tinned fish and in sushi in North America, Europe and Asia.
  • The global Yellowfin market in 2018 was worth $15.8bn (£11.36bn), the second-highest value of the seven tuna species according to a report by the world’s largest canned tuna company, Thai Union Group PCL.The European Union proposes a total catch reduction from nearly 438,000 metric tons in 2019 to about 380,000.



  • Harmful fisheries subsidies damage fish populations, undermine the economic viability of small-scale producers and jeopardize the livelihoods and food security of coastal communities.
  • WTO negotiations for regulations on fishing subsidies began in 2001, and are intended to incorporate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. 
  • These harmful subsidies fund the construction of new fishing vessels or reduce the cost of fuel, for example. They increase fishing capacity by reducing costs, which heightens the risk of overfishing. This limits our ability to sustainably manage our fisheries.
  • International rules on fisheries subsidies would be a significant step towards rebuilding an abundant ocean.
  • The negotiations propose three categories of prohibited subsidies, those that support illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing (Article 3.1); affect overfished stocks (Article 4.1); or lead to overcapacity and overfishing (Article 5.1).
  • We need all three articles to achieve sustainable fisheries globally.
  • However, adherence to new rules must be monitored and enforced, particularly as subsidies are highly complex and their reporting often vague or green-washed. Future battles will revolve around issues of transparent reporting and the measured effectiveness of the agreement. 
  • What is important is that the WTO is able to reach consensus and we can take an important step - no matter how small - towards rebuilding fish populations.

Ending fishing subsidies could save our Oceans and restore fish populations:

  • Harmful fisheries subsidies damage fish populations, undermine the economic viability of small-scale producers and jeopardize the livelihoods and food security of coastal communities.
  • WTO negotiations for regulations on fishing subsidies began in 2001, and are intended to incorporate the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
  • These harmful subsidies fund the construction of new fishing vessels or reduce the cost of fuel, for example. They increase fishing capacity by reducing the costs, which heightens the risk of overfishing. This limits our ability to sustainably manage our fisheries. International rules on fisheries subsidies would be a significant step towards rebuilding an abundant ocean.
  • The negotiations propose three categories of prohibited subsidies, those that support illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing; affect overfished stocks; or lead to overcapacity and overfishing.
  • We need all three articles to achieve a reduction of overfishing and move towards repopulating overfished species towards an abundant ocean.


The WTO has agreed to phase out subsidies before the summer of 2022:

On June 17th 2022, members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded an agreement to tackle the harmful fisheries subsidies that encourage unsustainable fishing in the world’s Oceans. This represents the first set of global disciplines on governments’ financial support to their fishing sector and the first WTO agreement with an environmental objective at its core.


The rules in a nutshell:

Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing (Article 3): 

  • Prohibition to subsidize vessels or operators that are subject of an IUU fishing “determination” (+support activities). Determinations can be made by coastal state, flag state, regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs)


Overfished populations (Article 4): 

  • Prohibition to subsidize the fishing of fish species that are recognized as overfished by: coastal states or Regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs)
  • Flexibility: Subsidies are allowed if such subsidies or fisheries management measures are implemented to rebuild populations to a biologically sustainable level.


Others (Article 5):

  • Prohibition of subsidies to fishing on the unregulated high seas - where no fisheries management measure applies.
  • Special care must be given and due restraint must be exercised when providing subsidies to:
    • Vessel that do not fly the subsidizing Member’s flag
    • Fishing of species the status of which is unknown.


In order to maintain transparency there is an obligation to provide some fisheries-related information in subsidy notifications:

  • Type or kind of fishing activity to which subsidy applies
  • To the extent possible:
    • Status of fish populations
    • Conservation and management measures
    • Fleet capacity 
    • Name and identification number of vessels
    • Catch data
  • Obligation to notify list of IUU determinations and membership in RFMOs
  • Obligation to provide information on fisheries regime and implementation measures.


What was left out of the agreement?

  • Prohibition to provide subsidies to contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, including a specific list of subsidies. For example, subsidies for:
    • Vessel acquisition and modernization
    • Purchase of engines, machinery and equipment
    • Fuel costs and other variable costs (ice, bait, etc…)
    • Fishing beyond the subsidizing members’ waters


Bottom Trawling:

Bottom Trawling releases more CO2 than Germany each year:

Today bottom-trawling is allowed in 90% of our coastal seas, dredging in 95%

  • A group of scientists and economists are pushing for bottom-trawling fishing emissions to be added to the nation's greenhouse gas inventories, as a study reveals the practice is responsible for 1 billion tonnes of underwater emissions every year.
  • The team behind the Nature study found that bottom-trawling is responsible for 1.47 gigatons (as of 2016) of CO2 emissions which is comparable to Japan’s annual emissions or to what the airline industry is responsible for.
  • What’s more, an area isn’t depleted of carbon after being trawled once. Emissions are still released for up to 400 years at a rate of 40% of the initial year’s emissions as new layers of sediments are disrupted, the study found.
  • The world’s governments need to work together to create protected areas where bottom-trawling is prohibited. Currently, Utah State University estimates that just 2.7% of the ocean is fully protected.


Deep Sea Mining:

Deep-sea mining would be detrimental to the deep-sea ecosystems of which we still know so little:

  • We know less about the deep seabed than we do about Mars. Mining this deep seabed will destroy an ecosystem that has taken millions of years to evolve.
  • There are currently 17 contracts for exploration of the Clarion Clipperton Zone between Hawaii and Mexico in the high seas. The seafloor here is covered in mineral rich polymetallic nodules. The ISA - International Seabed Authority could soon issue permits to start mining.
  1. Polymetallic Nodules: The mining contracts last 30 years, however, recovery of these sites will take millions of years. We do not know what will happen to the unique biodiversity that thrives at these depths thousands of meters below the surface. We also do not know the role these play in carbon capture and in the rest of the ocean.
  2. Seamounts which are covered in thick crusts of cobalt and other minerals might be subject to mining. These are home to deep-sea sponge and coral ecosystems that have taken thousands of years to develop.
  3. Hydrothermal vents are rich in minerals but equally rich in some of the most unique living creatures on the planet.
  4. Sediment Plumes: The deep seabed has a deep layer of sediment that has taken millions of years to accumulate. The potential damage from disturbing this is not limited solely to the mining sites. Currents can carry these great distances and could also impact the water column.
  5. Toxic sediment: Bringing mined minerals to the surface involves sucking them up using riser pipes along with lots of water. The water is then pumped back down into the ocean, now contaminated with toxic heavy metals.
  6. Noise and light pollution and sediment plumes would seriously impact species that use noise, echolocation or bioluminescence to communicate, find prey and escape predators.

These are only the impacts we have been able to identify so far before the mining has even begun, there may be more. This could also cause the destruction of ecosystems we know so little about.



Transshipments are the transfer of catch between vessels. This plays a large role in the commercial fishing industry, allowing thousands of vessels to offload fresch catch onto refrigerated cargo vessels called carriers or ‘reefers’ which then take it to shore for processing. This helps fishers avoid costly and time-consuming trip back to port, increasing the freshness and value of their catch.


However, this often takes place at sea, out of sight and reach of authorities, limiting effective monitoring and controls, allowing operators to manipulate or omit data pertaining to their fishing practices in an effort to gain financial advantage. This leads to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and other maritime crimes such as trafficking of weapons, drugs and even people. Insufficient data and inaccurate reporting of catch can lead to incorrect assessments of species populations, resulting in conservation and management efforts to be based on incorrect data. 


The solution to this is in satellite monitoring, currently being carried out by global fishing watch, in order to monitor legal and illegal fishing to prevent transhipments from allowing IUU fishing to go unattended to.


Albatrosses are facing extinction, RSPB page:

Albatrosses are facing extinction due to fishing gear. Due to their nomadic lifestyle out on the Ocean, they often come into contact with fishing vessels where they are frequently accidentally killed by fishing gear, known as bycatch. This has led to extreme declines in their populations with 15 of 22 albatross species now being threatened with extinction.


Albatross mainly feed on squid and fish on the surface of the water which they can smell up to 12 miles away. Searching for bait or discarded fish around fishing vessels means they often become caught on baited hooks and drown or struck by trawlf cables towing nets through the water. This is the largest threat albatrosses face globally.


This can be avoided using simple, cheap and effective preventative measures such as:

  • Bird-scaring lines (tori lines) which have colorful streamers to frighten away birds from baited hooks and harmful trawl cables.
  • Fishing at night prevents deaths since most seabirds don’t feed in the dark.
  • Adding weights to longlines makes baited hooks sink faster, reducing the time for seabirds to attack the baits and get caught.


These have been proven to be effective by RSPB and BirdLife International whose work has resulted in a 99% drop in albatross deaths in South African trawl fisheries since 2006. 


  1. Seabirds play a vital role in marine ecosystems. Of the 328 currently known seabird species, 102 of them are considered endangered and 5 and thought to be extinct. 


  1. Seabirds play a vital role in marine ecosystems. Of the 346 currently known seabird species, 97 (28%) are globally threatened, 17 (5%) are critically endangered, and another 10% are threatened according to the IUCN Red List.


Seabirds are often killed by accidental hooking, entanglement in fishing gear and bycatch. With bycatch being a global issue threatening many fish species and marine ecosystem components, many marine conservation groups are working to reduce bycatch and its detrimental impacts to many species. 


Due to bait, seen as “free food” near fishing vessels, seabirds will often get hooked or entangled in fishing gear, especially longline fisheries, often then being dragged underwater where they drown.


These are posing serious threats to seabird populations including albatross, cormorants, gannet, loons, pelicans, puffins, gulls, storm-petrels, shearwaters, and terns, among others.


Overfishing is also starving seabirds along the South West coast of Africa. Purse-seiners compete with Cape Gannets, large diving seabirds, for small pelagic fish. This has led to a significant decline in both adult health and chick growth rates.


Seabirds are among the most devastated and threatened species of wild animals in the world. As they perform critical food-web functions, their decline contributes to the destabilization of marine ecosystems worldwide. A study in 2015 by Michelle Paleczny and colleagues at the University of British Columbia, Canada, found that seabirds suffered a “70% community-level” population decline between 1950 and 2010.” The largest declines appear among species that feed on deep-sea fish, severely reduced by industrial fishing fleets.


For example, the Albatross, the bird with the largest wingspan on earth, populations have declined by 40-60% in 35 years and all 22 known species appear on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list, with 17 being “Threatened with extinction.”


Plastic pollution also kills a million seabirds every year with global heating, ocean acidification, oil spills and toxic chemical pollution also contributing to seabird decline.


With ocean acidification, jelly fish which have a higher resistance to pH changes have begun to dominate ecosystems, competing with fish for zooplankton, affecting the prey of seabirds.


Long-line fishing vessels, whose nets can be up to 80 miles long, have ignored the proposed notion to night fish in order to reduce seabird killings, with only 15% of vessels attempting to take on the proposed solution. 


Little fact: 1,800 - 3,300 Guillemots are unintentionally caught and killed in fishing gear every year in the UK alone.


Between 1970 and 2010, fisheries have increased their catch by 10% whilst seabirds’ catch has decreased by 20% globally.


Depletion of populations of small lipid-rich fish have reduced numbers of seabirds, in Peru, the Norwegian Sea, and the Barents Sea.