More on the flip...
At the UN, we've been working to try to build a consensus in support of a ban on unregulated bottom trawling beyond national jurisdictions, much as was done in the early 1990s for large scale driftnet fishing (which ended up catching lots of whales and other bycatch in the process of fishing for tuna). But the countries that show up to these negotiations are many of the same countries that have bottom trawling fleets operating beyond national jurisdictions, so it's a bit like having the foxes guard the henhouse.
Certainly many of these same countries are restricting bottom trawling within their own waters. The United States just closed most of the West Coast EEZ to bottom trawling. New Zealand, Australia, Norway, the European Union and others have legislation restricting the practice as well. So what is the excuse for not respecting the waters beyond? Well, there are classical problems of collective action and the prisoner's dilemma--unless countries act together, there's little sense in countries to unilaterally 'disarm.' As Phil Heatley, a spokesman for New Zealand's fisheries industry, put it recently in opposing a bottom trawl ban on an interim basis for the Pacific: "Destroying the New Zealand fishing industry by way of a blanket moratorium would achieve nothing because other nations would still be able to bottom trawl the high seas completely unabated."
In a year of UN "reform", surely taking action on a few pressing issues will be how success is measured. This destruction of seabed ecosystems (part of the "common heritage of mankind") surely must be one of those issues. Will Palau be alone in this call, or will others join?