MCS says landmark proposal to phase out deep-sea bottom trawling in North east Atlantic is massive step towards protection of the deep
The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) of which MCS is a member, has 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.
Debbie Crockard, MCS Fisheries Policy Officer says: " MCS is pleased that the Commission is taking a positive step towards protecting deep sea ecosystems, and we are encouraged by the promise of financial support for the collection of data which will be essential for the management of these vulnerable marine ecosystems. Managing the sustainable exploitation of many deep sea species will be a huge challenge due to their inherent vulnerability to overfishing with many species unable to produce viable numbers to support a fishery. However, the proposed phase out of deep sea bottom trawling - the most damaging fishing practice in the deep sea - is a huge step towards protecting this hugely diverse and amazing ecosystem.
The Commission's proposals have the potential to protect entire ecosystems; ensuring that fish which can reach 200years of age and coral reefs millennia old are safe guarded for the future. We hope that the European Council and Parliament show as much ambition and forethought as the European Commission and keep the momentum strong."
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.