Minister Jānis Dūklavs Welcomes Sea Rose

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Agricultural Minister Jānis Dūklavs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Department director Normunds Riekstins meet with Sea Rose (c) Pasaules Dabas Fonds

Minister Jānis Dūklavs welcomes Sea Rose to support progress on new EU deep-sea regulation

May 19, 2015 – Representatives of Pasaules Dabas Fonds, with Sea Rose – a model deep-sea roundnose grenadier fish – met today with Minister Jānis Dūklavs, to call on him to continue the progress Latvia is making shepherding the negotiation of a new EU regulation to manage deep-sea fishing and protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems.

Sea Rose, on behalf of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC), has been touring Riga over the past 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.

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. We welcome the progress Latvia, which holds the presidency of the EU Council of Ministers, has made in the negotiations for a new regulation and respectfully urge Minister Jānis Dūklavs to push for a strong conclusion.” Ingus Purgals, WWF Baltic Sea and freshwater program manager, “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 Latvian Presidency”.

“I recognise the vital importance of the deep oceans, and appreciate the work of those campaigning to protect it” said Minister Jānis Dūklavs, “I am pleased we have made progress under our Presidency and will continue to work with my colleagues to find solutions”.

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Sea Rose in front of the Ministry of Agriculture in Latvia (c) Pasaules Dabas Fonds

The DSCC recommends that a new  EU regulation should seek to protect the deep-sea ecosystems associated with the seabed by:

  • Requiring environmental impact assessments for all deep-sea fisheries
  • Ensuring that the use of low impact, environmentally sustainable fishing gears is prioritized.
  • Protecting areas where VMEs are known or likely to occur.
  • Better managing both the catch and bycatch of deep-sea species.

The DSCC is also calling for a phase out of bottom trawling below 600m to secure protection of deep-sea ecosystems, and ensure effective enforcement and monitoring.

Both organizations are grateful that Latvia is interested in making progress on this issue and urge other Member States to agree a Council position without further delay.