Clear Cutting the Seafloor: Deep-Sea Trawling

Date: June 24, 2013

Source: National Geographic

Author: Rhian Waller

As debate rages in the European Union on how to regulate, and eventually phase out and ban deep-sea trawling, I am reminded of my many deep-sea cruises. Looking for cold-water corals in the depths of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Antarctic, often thousands of meters below the oceans surface, there is almost always a reminder that human influences run deep.

Trash is common – paint cans, bottles, bolts, and shackles – i’ve even seen house numbers laying barren at thousands of meters depth. I always wonder where they came from, what period in time and how they came to be many thousands of meters below the surface and many hundreds of miles from the nearest land.

Much more pervasive however is deep-sea trawling. As traditional, shallow water pelagic fisheries have been running low, many have been moving into deeper waters, utilizing new species of fish, and new populations. Unlike traditional pelagic (or open water) trawls however, these deep-sea trawlers often use bottom nets to gain fish living close to the seafloor. Fish using ecosystems such as deep-water corals and sponges for feeding and protection of themselves and their young.

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Posted on Categories EU FisheriesTags