In a report focusing on the impacts of fishing in the north-east Atlantic, the prestigious UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) (1) concludes that drastic and urgent action is needed to save the marine environment from further destruction by fishing, including the ruinous effects of deep sea bottom trawlers which plough furrows up to 6m wide and 0.15m deep for many kilometers across the seabed. In addition to recommending that 30% of UK waters are closed to commercial fishing and a network of marine reserves established in UK and international waters, the Commission makes a number of specific recommendations on deep sea bottom trawling (2).
It says that the UK government should halt deep sea bottom trawling in UK waters and by UK trawlers elsewhere in the world and should press the European Commission to ban bottom trawling for deep water species in EU waters. It also calls for better international controls on high seas bottom trawling. Responding to RCEP’s call for EU action on deep sea bottom trawling, Matthew Gianni of The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition said: “Deep sea species and ecosystems are dangerously at risk from bottom trawling, especially on the high seas where the fisheries are largely unregulated. The EU cannot ignore the recommendations of this report or the calls for action in its own waters. Neither can it, in all conscience, ignore the devastation its fleets wreak on the high seas of the global commons.” Another report on the status of the world’s coral reefs in 2004 (3) also calls for the prohibition of destructive fishing practices, including bottom trawling, and the establishment of marine protected areas to protect cold water coral reefs. “Because of their extreme vulnerability, there is a need for urgent and precautionary action to conserve and sustainably manage these cold water coral reefs.”
Notes: (1) Turning the Tide, Addressing the Impact of Fisheries on the Marine Environment, RCEP.
(2) RCEP Recommendations, pdf. See 11:40-11:42 for the recommendations on bottom trawling.
(3) Chapter 3, Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2004, edited by Clive Wilkinson.
More information: • RCEP Press release, 7 December 2004. • UK Commission findings – a wake up call to the crisis in our oceans, 7 December 2004, Greenpeace International press release. • Huge No-Fishing Zones ‘Offer Only Hope’ of Saving Marine Ecosystem From Disaster by Michael McCarthy, Independent UK, 8 December 2004. • Fish areas need drastic action, 7 December 2004, BBC News. • Scientists call for partial fishing ban, by Jeremy Lovell, Reuters, 7 December 2004. • Action Update: High Seas Biodiversity Protection, IISD Linkages. • El Anzuelo Vol 14, (pdf) published by the Institute for European Environmental Policy contains the following articles:
Deep sea corals threatened by EU bottom trawl fleets, by Matthew Gianni, (Page 11).
International attention to cold-water coral reefs, by Emily Corcoran, UNEP-WCMC, (Page 9). • ICES Articles including:
Is time running out for deep-sea fish?
Coral, in the North Atlantic?