Our deep seas are in deep trouble – will MEPs protect them?

19 November 2013

Source: The nef blog

Author: Stephen Devlin

The deep sea is widely held to be the last unexplored frontier on our planet. Its sheer inaccessibility makes it very difficult to gather information about it. But what we do know is enough to convince over 300 scientists that the diversity of life it harbours is worth protecting.

Deep-sea bottom trawling – a method of fishing still in regular use across EU waters – is a direct threat to this important marine life. Dragging heavy machinery across the floor of the deep sea causes severe long-term damage to the fragile and slow-growing ecosystems that thrive down there.

But that’s not all. Our research shows the damage isn’t just limited to the deep sea environment.

Deep-sea bottom trawling is financially unprofitable, despite large public subsidies. It is fuel-intensive and inefficient, leading to huge quantities of unwanted and ultimately discarded fish. It also supports far fewer jobs – up to six times less – than alternative methods of catching the same species.

Adding all the costs up and comparing them to the limited benefits of deep-sea bottom trawling, we estimate the net loss to society is between €388 and €494 per tonne of fish.

That’s before we even start to include the costs to deep-sea ecosystems.

On 10 December the European Parliament will consider a new regulation on deep-sea fishing in a plenary session. The fisheries committee of the Parliament already considered the regulation and voted against phasing out the use of bottom trawling for deep-sea fisheries, in no small part due to industry lobbying.


For more, go to: www.neweconomics.org/blog/entry/our-deep-seas-are-in-deep-trouble-will-meps-protect-them