Bottom trawler. (Photo: Perre Gleizes/Greenpeace)
Green groups hail proposal to scrap bottom trawling
Monday, July 23, 2012, 00:30 (GMT + 9)
The European Commission (EC) proposed phasing out bottom trawling and bottom gillnetting among deep sea fishing fleets in the Northeast Atlantic over the next two years to help protect one of the most biodiverse areas on Earth.
The Pew Environment Group praised EC Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki for the daring proposal.
"We congratulate Commissioner Damanaki on her leadership," commented Matthew Gianni, policy advisor to the Pew Environment Group and the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition. "It is now up to EU fisheries ministers and the European Parliament to show similar resolve by adopting legislation to implement the Commissioner's proposal and put an end to destructive deep-sea fishing practices."
In the heavily exploited Northeast Atlantic, the European Union (EU) is responsible for 75 per cent of the total catch of deep-sea species.
Adopting the Commission proposal would transform the EU into a global defender of deep-sea marine life by safeguarding vulnerable deep-sea species and ecosystems from destructive bottom fishing, Gianni affirmed.
If the proposal is adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, the move would set a major precedent and stress the urgent need to defend the deep-sea worldwide and restore the productivity of this endangered ecosystem, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) commented.
“This proposal must go through, it underlines the inappropriateness of targeting vulnerable species and the associated damage that this form of fishing has on deep-sea marine habitats and non-target species,” said Alfred Schumm, Leader of WWF’s Global Smart Fishing Initiative.
“Out of the Abyss,” a policy analysis issued earlier this year by the Pew Environment Group, suggested how the EU could restructure its deep-sea fishing rules in line with a series of United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolutions on protecting vulnerable deep-sea life. The analysis recommends phasing out harmful fishing practices such as bottom trawling.
Additionally, Pew urges the European Parliament and EU member states to strengthen the proposal further by: requiring impact assessments for all deep-sea fisheries, not just new ones; requiring closure of deep-sea areas to fishing where vulnerable marine species are known or likely to occur unless these areas can be managed to prevent significant adverse impacts; and requiring that all catch, including bycatch, be sustainable; and that all bycatch be landed unless there is adequate justification for throwing it back.
Pew is calling on France and Spain, which operate the largest deep-sea bottom trawl fleets in the Northeast Atlantic, to emulate the leadership shown by Damanaki and adopt a regulation based on the Commission proposal incorporating the measures outlined above.
Greenpeace also hailed the proposal.
“This destructive fishing fleet should never have been built in the first place,” Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director Saskia Richartz said. “Destructive fishing methods like deep-sea fishing should be the first to be scrapped as the EU reforms its fishing rules.”
- EC proposes gradual phase-out of bottom trawling
By Natalia Real