Proposal would end the most harmful form of deep-water commercial fishing
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —Commercial deep sea fishing is one of those activities where the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind” holds true, as hundreds of trawlers drag nets across the seafloor to capture edible species, in the process doing immeasurable harm to untold other species.
But in recent years, biologists have been able to start assessing the damage, finding that deep-sea bottom trawling is the most direct and widespread threat to fragile deep-sea ecosystems. These ecosystems harbor a diversity of life — much of it as yet unidentified — that may rival the biodiversity found in the Amazon rainforest.
The science is starting to trickle through to the policy level, at least in Europe, where the European Commission last week proposed phasing out destructive bottom trawling and bottom gillnetting among deep sea fishing fleets in the Northeast Atlantic.
Much of the science was compiled in a policy analysis by the Pew Environment Group that suggested reforms for deep-sea fishing regulations in line with a series of United Nations General Assembly resolutions on protecting vulnerable deep-sea life. Visit this NOAA website to learn more about life in the deepest oceans.
The Pew Environment Group praised EC Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, for the bold proposal to finally put an end to these unsustainable and destructive deep-sea fishing methods.
“We congratulate Commissioner Damanaki on her leadership today in proposing a thorough overhaul of the management of deep-sea fisheries and taking the first step towards phasing out one of the most destructive fishing practices in use today,” said 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.”
The European Union’s deep-sea fishing fleet is one of the largest in the world. In the heavily exploited Northeast Atlantic the EU is responsible for 75 percent of the total catch of deep-sea species.
“If the Commission proposal is adopted, it would transform the EU into a global defender of deep-sea marine life by protecting vulnerable deep-sea species and ecosystems from the harmful impacts of destructive bottom fishing,” Gianni said.
France and Spain operate the largest deep-sea bottom trawl fleets in the Northeast Atlantic. The Pew Environment Group is calling on France and Spain to emulate the leadership shown by Maria Damanaki and work to adopt a regulation based on the Commission proposal incorporating the additional measures outlined above.