In a report focusing on the impacts of fishing in the north-east Atlantic, the prestigious UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) (1) concludes that drastic and urgent action is needed to save the marine environment from further destruction by fishing, including the ruinous effects of deep sea bottom trawlers which plough furrows up to 6m wide and 0.15m deep for many kilometers across the seabed. In addition to recommending that 30% of UK waters are closed to commercial fishing and a network of marine reserves established in UK and international waters, the Commission makes a number of specific recommendations on deep sea bottom trawling (2).
Further to the discovery and documentation of two Spanish-flagged vessels bottom trawling in the Atlantic last month, Greenpeace took action against a third vessel, the Lithuanian-flagged Anuva owned and operated out of Spain.
The needless destruction of the high seas was exposed by Greenpeace this morning, after documenting a EU bottom trawler operating in the North Atlantic.
The European General Affairs Council has just adopted a proposal from the European Commission for urgent measures to protect deep sea coral reefs around the Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands.
In a letter to EU Fisheries Minister Franz Fischler and the External Affairs, Environment and Fisheries Ministers of all EU Member States, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition expressed deep concern “if the European Union were to advocate that the UN FAO and/or Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) take the lead in resolving this issue.”
In spite of the failure of the European Union to take a leadership role to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems, the United Nations Informal Consultative Process on the Law of the Seas (UNICPOLOS) called on countries to accelerate action to protect deep-sea ecosystems and deal with the impact of bottom trawl fishing on the high seas.