Date: June 25, 2008

This week (June 23 – 24) EU Fisheries Ministers met to consider a swathe of measures including a regulation to control bottom fishing. The European Commission had developed a proposal to regulate European Community (EC) fisheries, consistent with the United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolution 61/105 that requires impact assessments, 100% observer coverage, and a prohibition on bottom fishing below 1000 meters depth.

The Commission proposal applies to EC bottom fisheries in areas of the high seas where there are no measures already in place (either through the existence of RFMOs or multilaterally agreed ‘interim measures’). The Council agreed to adopt the proposal in most regards, accepting the observer coverage and full impact assessments, though disappointingly it failed to agree the depth limit. DSCC Policy Advisor Matthew Gianni said, “The adoption of this proposal is going to offer real protection on the water to vulnerable marine ecosystems. It sets an important precedent that impact assessments should be carried out in fisheries.

The depth limit would have safeguarded intensely vulnerable areas but conducted well, the impact assessments provide a fall back to achieve this.” The DSCC campaigned for a UN resolution on high seas bottom fishing and is now following closely how the resolution is implemented. Matthew Gianni: “This is another good step towards full implementation across the oceans of the world.”