THE European Parliament's Fisheries Committee has voted to restrict bottom trawling in vulnerable areas - but some organisation say the move has not gone far enough.
The Fisheries Committee agreed to close off northeast Atlantic areas known to include vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as sponges and corals, to bottom trawling. Kriton Arsenis, the Greek social-democrat MEP who helped write the report: said:"I am pleased to announce that in today's vote the Fisheries Committee introduced a new element to the proposal, banning fishing in areas with sponges, corals and other vulnerable marine ecosystems to be listed by the Commission. These areas are the spawning and nursing grounds of deep-sea species and their protection will be invaluable in achieving the recovery of deep-sea stocks."He added: Unfortunately, the committee did not back the Commission proposal to phase out deep-sea bottom trawling altogether", said Kriton Arsenis whose report was adopted with 19 votes in favour, no-one against and four abstentions.
Fisheries Committee MEPs nonetheless introduced a review clause, asking the Commission to evaluate after four years the impact of the special fishing gear used for deep-sea fishing (especially bottom trawls or bottom-set gillnets) on vulnerable deep-sea species and marine ecosystems, with the possibility of proposing a general phase-out of bottom trawling thereafter.
But Matthew Gianni, a policy adviser with the Pew Charitable Trusts, said the committee proposal would provide some extra protection for vulnerable deep-sea species and ecosystems. But he urged the full Parliament to reinstate the total ban when it votes on the proposal in December or January. However, some countries such as Spain were against any kind of ban altogether.
Deep-sea stocks are fish caught in waters beyond the main fishing grounds of the continental shelves. Most of these species are slow-growing and long-living, which makes them particularly vulnerable to fishing. Their habitats and ecosystems are largely unknown and their fragile environment, once damaged, may take centuries to recover.
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