10 January 2014
Source: IUCN Blog
Author: David Williams-Mitchell
The European Parliament’s recent vote on a draft regulation to define the legal status of deep sea fishing simply does not go far enough to halt the widespread destruction of sea floor habitats.
Thanks in part to a compromise amendment put forward by the Fisheries Committee, the highly controversial practice of dragging for catch on the sea floor will remain legal, at least in the short term. Let’s recap why we should expect more from our legislators for a revised draft:
As the excellent cartoon produced by Penelope Bagieu demonstrates, sea floor trawling will devastate this little understood habitat, where organisms often display a very slow rate of growth and reproduction. Countless natural resources stand to be eliminated before they have even been discovered, in a process that rips up hectares of habitat and lands tonnes of inedible by-catch.
The economics of sea floor trawling make no sense: 11 ships currently practice sea floor trawling in Europe, and even this tiny fleet requires subsidization of over €1 million per year from the European Union. Despite this subsidy, the Bloom Association estimates that the effect on employment for fishing is negligible.
While the possibility exists for an outright ban on bottom trawling after four years, it is estimated that several square kilometers of habitat are destroyed every fishing day. In four years, the discussion of banning sea floor fishing may come too late.