The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) congratulates Claire Nouvian, founder of BLOOM Association, a member organization of the DSCC, for winning the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work on a new European Union deep-sea fishing regulation. The regulation bans bottom trawling below 800 metres in EU waters and contains a variety of additional measures to protect deep-sea ecosystems such as cold-water coral reefs, deep water sponge fields and other so-called vulnerable marine ecosystems found extensively in EU waters from the harmful effects of fishing.
“The campaigning by Claire and BLOOM Association in France and elsewhere were critical to getting the agreement to ban deep-sea trawling in EU waters” said Matthew Gianni, co-founder and political and policy advisor to the DSCC. “We are very happy to see her work recognized and rewarded with the Goldman Environmental Prize today”.
The campaign to protect the deep sea through new EU fisheries legislation began in earnest in 2010, shortly after the European Commission circulated a ‘consultation’ document to EU member states on amending the previous EU deep-sea fisheries regulation. In 2012, the EU’s Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, released a proposal for a new regulation to the European Parliament and Council of Ministers which proposed a phase-out of bottom trawling for ‘directed’ fisheries for deep-sea species in the northeast Atlantic.
Over the following four years extensive negotiations took place within and between the Parliament and Council of Fisheries Ministers. The regulation was formally adopted in December of 2016 by the Parliament and Council and entered into force in January of last year. BLOOM Association, the DSCC and Pew Charitable Trusts campaigned to obtain a series of conservation measures in the new regulation, including the deep-sea trawl ban, together with Seas At Risk and numerous national NGO members of the DSCC across Europe in Portugal, Spain, France, the UK, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, Latvia, and Sweden and key Members of European Parliament. Amongst Member States, the UK, Latvia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands played critical roles.
Since early last year we have been monitoring the implementation of the regulation (e.g. see DSCC/NGO letter to the European Commission). While the implementation of the regulation is moving forward, the DSCC is concerned that key deadlines in the regulation have been missed or delayed. These include establishing a mechanism to identify and close areas with deep-sea corals, sponges and other vulnerable species below 400 meters to bottom fishing and confining fisheries classified as targeting deep-sea species to a recent ‘footprint’ of fishing activity.
In addition, this year the European Union will set biannual quotas for the catch of deep-sea species in the northeast Atlantic. Two of the three main target species – roundnose grenadier and blue ling – in the deep-sea fishery off Ireland and Scotland are classified as endangered and vulnerable respectively by the IUCN Red List of European marine fish published in 2015 along with several species of deep-sea sharks caught in the area. The DSCC will again call on the EU to agree to prohibit fishing on these species (see DSCC/NGO letter to the Director General of the European Commission’s DG MARE).
“We will continue to work to ensure that the regulation is effectively implemented, and deep-sea species and habitats are given the full protection required under the new regulation and international law” said Gianni.
For more information on Claire Nouvian, Bloom Association and the Goldman Prize see https://www.goldmanprize.org/recipient/claire-nouvian/ & http://www.bloomassociation.org/
For further information on the campaign for the EU deep-sea fisheries legislation see https://www.savethehighseas.org/deep-sea-fishing/past-eu-campaign/
 Kriton Arsenis, Raul Romeva, Ulrike Rodust, Chris Davies, Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, Yannick Jadot, and Marco Affronte and their advisors Christina Mercuriadi, Michael Earle and Emilie Casteignau Bernardini amongst others.