WWF Welcomes Proposed Bottom Trawl Ban – Fishupdate.com

WWF Welcomes Proposed Bottom Trawl Ban Published:  23 July, 2012

WWF welcomes EU proposal to ban deep-sea bottom trawling and gill netting.

WWF has congratulated the European Commission (EC) for publishing a legislative proposal to phase out deep-sea bottom trawling and bottom gillnet fishing within two years in European waters as part of an overall package of reforms to the EU’s management of deep-sea fisheries in the North-East Atlantic.

This regulation would result in a ban of deep-water trawling and gill netting below 1000m depth in the entire North-East Atlantic and for certain fisheries below 500m.

It would apply to EU waters and vessels flying EU Member States’ flags in NEAFC (North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission) high seas waters.

If adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, this would set a major precedent and stress the urgent necessity to protect the deep-sea worldwide and restore the productivity of this vulnerable ecosystem.

“This proposal must go through, it underlines the inappropriateness of targeting vulnerable species and the associated damage that this form of fishing has on deep-sea marine habitats and non-target species.  Adopting it will be a clear signal that Members of the European Parliament and EU Fisheries Ministers take responsibility to protect nature and its resources for future generations,” said Alfred Schumm, Leader of WWF’s Global Smart Fishing Initiative.

There is a general understanding that deep-sea species should not be harvested due to their slow growth and low fertility.

But given pressures on the industry to move further afield, regulations for deep-sea fisheries were established several years ago. The EU has been trying to manage them ever since, including closing certain areas.

WWF says many destructive fisheries occur on the continental slopes of EU Member States between 200 and 1000m depth.

Bottom trawling devastates cold water coral reefs, deep-water sponge formations, seamount ecosystems, hydrothermal vent fields and other vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) as defined by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), says the WWF. “The proposed ban must be extended to these depth zones to stop destruction and further depletion and to truly implement the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions on sustainable fishing in EU waters.”

“WWF encourages civil society, NGOs, businesses, governments, and scientists to support this proposal,” says Schumm. “It is extremely important that this proposal is publicly championed in order to alert individual EU Member States and Members of the European Parliament that they need to take their responsibility. They have to ensure that this deep-sea regulation is supported, adopted and implemented to phase-out destructive fishing practices, which bankrupt our oceans and its diminishing resources.”