The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) today welcomed the proposal by the European Commission to phase out destructive deep-sea bottom trawling and bottom gillnetting by EU fishing fleets in the Northeast Atlantic.
Mathew Gianni of the DSCC stated “The proposal is strong and, if adopted, would mark a significant turning point in the fortunes of the deep sea, which have been recognized as needing urgent protection from destructive fishing practices”.
The phase out, part of a package of proposals for the overhaul of the management of deep-sea fisheries in EU waters, would affect one of the largest deep-sea fisheries in the world. The European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, has proposed bold action for the protection of the deep sea in publishing the new draft regulation today.
Claire Nouvian, founder of the nonprofit Association Bloom, a member of the DSCC, said “Maria Damanaki has shown considerable backbone and vision by introducing the proposal to prevent further destruction of the deep sea.”
Deep-sea bottom trawling has long been considered the most destructive and far reaching danger to unique and fragile deep-sea ecosystems such as cold-water corals and seamounts. Moreover, many deep-sea fish species are highly vulnerable and have been severely depleted by overfishing as they are slow growing, long-lived and produce fewer young than species found in shallower waters.
Monica Verbeek, Executive Director at Seas At Risk, another member of the DSCC, commented: “The uniqueness and high vulnerability of deep-sea biodiversity requires urgent action from the European Union. The European Commission has taken the first step and it is now up to the European Council and Parliament to show similar will to end destructive fishing practices in the deep sea”.
The Commission proposal now goes to European Union Fisheries Ministers and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) for debate and adoption. The DSCC is urging all EU Member States and MEPs to adopt the phase-out contained in the Commission proposal. The DSCC is further calling for strengthening the EU’s deep-sea fisheries regulation through requiring environmental impact assessments for all deep-sea fisheries and ensuring that deep-sea fishing be prohibited if the catch of vulnerable deep-sea species is not demonstrated to be sustainable.
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