Minister Fernand Etgen Welcomes Sea Rose in Luxembourg

Luxembourg urged to lead negotiations to conclusion for new EU regulation on deep-sea fishing

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Minister Fernand Etgen and Director of the Rural Economy Service Pierre Treinen of the Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Consumer Protection welcome Sea Rose

As the EU Fisheries Council working group meets today in Brussels to discuss the new EU regulation on deep-sea fishing, representatives of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC), with Sea Rose – a model deep-sea roundnose grenadier fish – met today in Luxembourg city with the Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture and Consumer Protection, Mr. Fernand Etgen, to call on him to shepherd to conclusion negotiations for a regulation that ensures sustainable fisheries and protects vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems.

Luxembourg this month took on the rotating Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers and has the opportunity to steer negotiations to a conclusion, working with Ministers from the EU’s 27 other states to reach an agreement on a regulation which has been under discussion since July 2012 when the European Commission released its proposal, and 19 months since the European Parliament concluded its ‘first reading’ in December 2013.

Sea Rose, will be touring Luxembourg over the next few weeks to bring attention to the urgent need for a new regulation that will put an end to the destruction of the EU’s deep oceans. Like most other deep-sea species, roundnose grenadiers mature slowly, have longer reproductive cycles, and are long-lived – living up to 80 years of age – leaving them exceptionally vulnerable to fishing pressure.

Last month, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released the first ever European Red List of Marine Species, which classified the roundnose grenadier as ‘Endangered’ and the other of the two main fish species targeted by EU deep-sea trawlers, blue ling, as ‘Vulnerable’.

Most deep-sea species in the Northeast Atlantic are caught by deep-sea bottom trawlers. Deep-sea bottom trawlers drag massive, heavy nets affixed to steel plates and cables across the deep seabed, destroying corals, sponges and other deep-sea habitats that have flourished for thousands of years.

There is clear and unequivocal evidence that the deep-sea requires urgent protection from the destructive impact of deep-sea fishing. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea has repeatedly raised concerns over the status of deep-sea species in the northeast Atlantic, including in 2010 classifying the EU’s deep-sea catch to be 100% “outside safe biological limits”.

Sea Rose on her way to the Luxembourgish Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Consumer Protection
Sea Rose on her way to the Luxembourgish Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture and Consumer Protection

The DSCC “welcomes the Luxembourg Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers and respectfully urges Minister Fernand Etgen to push for a speedy conclusion, and other member States to agree a Council position without further delay. Europe must not continue to allow a deep-sea fishing regime that allows the continued destruction of Europe’s unique and ancient deep sea ecosystems. A new regulation is urgently needed that will deliver sustainable deep-sea fisheries and protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems in a huge area of the deep-oceans. This would be a significant achievement for the conservation of the marine environment, and a lasting legacy for the Luxembourg Presidency”.

Luxembourg, as a landlocked country, does not have a fishing fleet or a coastline, but we share a common interest in ensuring sustainable European fisheries and the protection of the European environment, under the sea as well as on land”, said Minister Fernand Etgen. “I am pleased to have the opportunity to work with my EU ministerial colleagues to help reach a conclusion that meets such vital aims

For more information, download our briefing paper “Missing At Sea – a new EU deep-sea fishing regulation” and follow Sea Rose at #SeaRose@DeepSeaConserve