In 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 61/105 calling for, inter alia, the closure of areas to bottom fishing where vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) are known to occur or are likely to occur. However, while progress is being made, there is  a strong likelihood that areas containing VMEs remain open to bottom fishing in ABNJ.


  • Bottom fishing can cause considerable damage to fragile marine ecosystems.
  • The UN General Assembly has called on States, working through regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs), to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs), including by closing areas to fishing.
  • Closures have been made in the North and Southeast Atlantic and in the Southern Ocean, but other regions are not yet covered by closures.
  • Progress in developing and implementing closures has been slow and RFMO decisions do not always follow good practice; it is likely that VMEs remain at risk from bottom fishing.
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