30 April 2005

Public Summary of the Second Annual Working Meeting

Forum sends statement to US and Russian Lawmakers asking for an International Agreement on Bering Sea Management. Read the Statement. Read statement in Russian.

29 July 2003

Press Advisory: Russian and U.S. Leaders Unite to Avert Collapse of Bering Sea Ecosystem

Marine experts from the U.S. and Russia are coming together to tackle the tough issues they say have been neglected by government agencies

(read complete press advisory)

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March 15, 2004


Media Advisory


International Citizens' Body Calls for Action on

Bering Sea Bottom Trawling



For more information

David Gordon, Tel. 510/541-5334; [email protected]

Melinda Kramer, Tel. 415-399-8850 x 303; [email protected]

Rory Cox, Tel: 415/399-8850 x302; [email protected].


Advisory: There will be a telephone press conference on Wednesday, March 17, 2004 , at 10 AM PST (9 AM Alaska Time) regarding the Statement on Bottom Trawling. The telephone press conference will include Whit Sheard of the Ocean Conservancy, David Gordon of Pacific Environment, and other members of the International Bering Sea Forum. Interested members of the media call 888/276-4201, participant code 96696.


Digital photos of underwater corals near the Aleutian Islands are available on request.


San Francisco , CA - Bottom-trawling, often regarded as "aquatic clear-cutting," is the subject of a statement released this week by a coalition of citizen experts from around the Bering Sea . The International Bering Sea Forum is calling for additional scientific research into the impacts of bottom trawling in the Bering, and to identify key habitat where bottom trawling should be limited. In a statement being sent to lawmakers in the U.S. and in Russia , the Forum details the need for intergovernmental efforts among the U.S. and Russia to develop a system of zoning in the Bering Sea that restricts bottom trawling in areas designated as "sensitive habitat."

To read the statement, click here.


Bottom trawling is a form of industrial fishing where heavy chains, nets and steel plates are dragged across the ocean floor. The gear scoops up large quantities of fish, while razing natural underwater structures in its path, such as coral reefs and rock piles. According to some estimates, bottom trawlers drag an area of the ocean as large as the entirety of the world's continental shelves every two years.


The Forum points to scientific evidence that current levels of bottom trawling activity in the Bering Sea are "harmful to marine life" and argues that the "intensity of trawling will impact future marine life and habitat due to long term significant damage to those habitats."


Whit Sheard, a member of the Forum and a Program Manager at the Ocean Conservancy, commented, "Bottom trawling is destroying the underwater equivalent of the Amazon Rainforest. Coral reefs, and the fish that thrive in them, are an essential element in sustaining life in the Bering, and everywhere else."


Forum members express concern that the Bering Sea , a globally important habitat for marine life and an important fishery, is experiencing significant ecological changes that are of concern to many Bering Sea residents and scientists internationally. Simultaneously, Forum members point out that indigenous peoples and local communities in Russia and the United States are dependent upon the ecological well-being and the stability of resources in the Bering Sea for their health, quality of life, sustainable livelihoods and cultures.


The Forum's statement follows the release of a major report released last February that details the global impacts of bottom trawling. The report, "High Seas Bottom Fisheries and Their Impact on the Biodiversity of Vulnerable Deep-Sea Ecosystems," co-published by WWF, NRDC, and the World Conservation Union, details how the practice poses significant risks to marine biodiversity, including species extinction. The Forum's Bottom Trawling Statement focuses on the Bering Sea , one of the world's most important marine habitats, which supplies the U.S. with over 50 per cent of its seafood.


The Bering Sea , which lies between Alaska and the Russian Far East, is largely in U.S. and Russian territorial waters. Although the Bering is a single marine environment, the two countries fail to coordinate the management of the sea. Forum members emphasize the need for international cooperation and have made it a priority to influence their respective governments to take common approaches to managing the Bering.


With many fisheries worldwide collapsing due to overfishing and pollution, the Bering Sea remains one of the last relatively robust marine habitats in the world. However, Forum members point out that the Bering is showing signs of strain, as more fishing fleets with more sophisticated and destructive gear are chasing fewer fish.


The International Bering Sea Forum, founded in August 2003, is an independent, non-governmental body of scientists, indigenous leaders, environmentalists, and family fishermen from both the U.S. and Russia committed to sustainable management of the Bering Sea . The Forum was founded in the belief that the Bering Sea is a global treasure, and that international cooperation is crucial to head off a number of threats, including overfishing, poaching, global warming, and pollution.


The International Bering Sea Forum is coordinated by Pacific Environment, a non-governmental organization based in San Francisco , California that protects the living environment of the Pacific Rim .

To read the statement, click here


For more information, see www.beringseaforum.org .