The European Parliament today (13 December) approved a Regulation establishing new rules for fishing in the North-East Atlantic, including ALDE’s support for a total ban of bottom trawling below 800 meters in EU waters. The lack of a proper regulation and the development of industrial fisheries in the EU during the last decades led to a dramatic stock depletion and destruction of marine habitat. This ban, setting a worldwide precedent, will help to protect vulnerable deep-sea marine ecosystems more effectively by setting stricter conditions on deep-sea fisheries.
ALDE Shadow Rapporteur Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (pictured) reacted after the vote: “A ban on bottom trawling below 800 metres is an important step for our marine environment, which has been consistently overlooked. Measures such as the identification of fishing zones, mandatory impact assessments or a total ban on certain vulnerable marine ecosystems will also raise environmental standards.
Moreover, control measures have also been tightened by forcing all catches to be declared and the establishment of a monitoring program to ensure that data collection is homogeneous and accurate. After four years of negotiations, we hope to move from words to action.”
Technological progress in the 1980s and 1990s enabled new forms of fishing at previously unexplored depths, from several hundred to several thousand metres below the surface. But deep-sea ecosystems still remain largely unknown today. Some deep-sea fish species can live for a very long time (over a century in the case of the orange roughy), and some deep-sea corals can be thousands of years old. Very slow-growing and late-reproducing fish stocks are highly sensitive to overfishing. Vulnerable marine habitats (of corals or sponges, for example) are also particularly sensitive to some fishing methods.
In view of the threats to deep-sea stocks, and recognising the fragility of deep-sea ecosystems, various initiatives to promote more responsible deep-sea exploitation have been taken, both globally (e.g. by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization) and at regional level (e.g. North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC).
Adopted text (2012/0179(COD)) will soon be available here (13.12.2016)
Video recording of debate (click on 12.12.2016)
Deep-sea fisheries in the north-east Atlantic (short briefing and podcast, 07-12-2016)
EP Thinktank briefing note on Deep sea fishing
Multiannual plan for North Sea demersal fisheries (04-10-2016, Briefing)
Understanding fisheries technical rules: An illustrated guide for non-experts (05.11.2015, in-depth analysis)
European Environment Agency research note on the North-East Atlantic Sea
Eurostat: Fisheries Statistics
The report adopted today can be found here.