‘Trawl Watch’: BLOOM launches accounts to track mega trawlers

Today, BLOOM is launching a Twitter account called ‘Trawl Watch EU‘ with the aim of tracking down and denouncing mega trawlers with destructive practices in European waters, on the model of flight tracker accounts like ‘I Fly Bernard’ and ‘Elon Jet’ which follow the activities of private jets. The French version of this account was launched yesterday (‘Trawl Watch France’ on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn) and received immediate support. Its first thread reached 700,000 views and the account gained nearly 1,500 followers in one day. This proves that citizens are truly concerned about these destroyers of the ocean.

In Europe, 1% of the largest vessels catch half of the fish and exploit the living world to the detriment of the health of the ocean and marine animals, and therefore of the climate, as well as of small-scale coastal fishers. The launch of Trawl Watch (both ‘France’ and ‘EU’) is thus combined with a petition addressed to European institutions and Member States against mega trawlers and factory vessels, ahead of negotiations on the European Nature Restoration Law.

Mega trawlers are plundering European waters

For months, BLOOM has been following the activities of mega trawlers up to 140 meters long, whose fishing methods and capacities are ravaging the ocean. One of these mega trawlers alone can catch up to 400,000 kilos of fish in one day,(1) i.e. the equivalent of the daily catch of 1,000 small-scale fishing vessels put together. Last December, eight factory-vessels among the largest in the world fished intensively in the French territorial waters of the Channel (a coastal strip of 12 nautical miles, i.e. about 22 km or 14 miles).

Coastal waters are under repeated assault by these war machines, whose effectiveness is inexorably reinforced by technological progress. This very week, the Margiris – a 136m long giant trawler also known as the ‘Death Star of the oceans’ – has been fishing in Irish waters, with gigantic nets 600m long and 200m wide. This is the equivalent of almost two Eiffel Towers! The Margiris’ disastrous environmental impact already pushed Australian authorities to ban it from their waters.(2)

The pressure mega trawlers impose on the ocean is unsustainable for both coastal ecosystems and the fishers who depend upon them. ‘Such gigantic vessels were never designed to come and fish so close to the coast. This is common sense. Even on the high seas, the scale of such harvesting capacity is disastrous and should not be allowed under European law,’  explains Laetitia Bisiaux, project manager at BLOOM.

The Margiris © CC

Vessels over 25 meters have no place in EU coastal waters

The European Union now has an opportunity to force these mega trawlers out. As part of the current Nature Restoration Law’s legislative proposal, Greens/EFA MEPs Marie Toussaint and Yannick Jadot have tabled amendments proposing a ban on vessels over 25 meters in length in EU coastal waters (12 nautical miles).(3) In France, the ‘Normandy Regional Fisheries Committee’, a fishers’ organization, stated in the press that it also wanted a ban on such vessels in the Channel.

The European Union can and must put an end to mega trawlers in its coastal band. The Greens/EFA amendments make this possible. The current social crisis and the ecological and climate collapse require it.

The European Parliament has the power and the duty to ban mega trawlers and destructive fishing methods

Today, the rapporteur of the Nature Restoration Law, the Spanish socialist MEP César Luena, holds in his hands a unique opportunity to effectively restore and protect the ocean from the constant pressure of industrial mega trawlers.

César Luena is currently examining the hundreds of amendments tabled on the Nature Restoration Law in the run up to the Environment Committee’s vote in June. Citizens and fishers count on César Luena and the shadow rapporteurs Christine Schneider (EPP), Maria Soraya Rodriguez Ramos (Renew), Jutta Paulus (Greens), Alexandr Vondra (ECR), and Mick Wallace (GUE) to ensure that a public and parliamentary debate takes place on the banning of mega trawlers and destructive fishing methods such as FADs (‘Fish Aggregating Devices’), demersal seining or bottom trawling, as requested in the Greens and GUE amendments.(4)

Solving climate change and preserving the future will not be achieved with declarations, but with resolute actions. As Valérie Masson-Delmotte, co-chair of the IPCC working group, said on 8 October 2018 in the French Senate, ‘Every degree counts, every year counts, and every decision counts. Failing to act today is adding to the burden of future generations. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C is not impossible but requires a strong and immediate policy.’ 

It is therefore imperative that the Greens and GUE amendments be put to a vote next June.


(1) Mainly pelagic fish such as herring, mackerel, blue whiting and horse mackerel.

(2) See page 48: https://www.marineconservation.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/AMCS-SOML-supertrawler-overseas-fleets-report-2019.pdf

(3) Amendment n°1086 available here: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/ENVI-AM-740824_EN.pdf.

(4) The amendments to ban demersal seining were tabled by Greens/EFA MEPs Marie Toussaint and Yannick Jadot and by GUE MEPs Marina Mesure and Younous Omarjee (amendments n°1088 and n°1089) https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/ENVI-AM-740824_EN.pdf.

Amendments to ban FADs (‘Fish Aggregating Devices’) were tabled by Greens/EFA MEPs Marie Toussaint and Yannick Jadot and by GUE MEP Anja Hazekamp (amendments n°1025 and n°1091)

The amendments to ban industrial fishing in Marine Protected Areas were tabled by Greens/EFA MEPs Marie Toussaint and Yannick Jadot and by GUE MEPs Anja Hazekamp, Marina Mesure and Younous Omarjee (amendments n°964, n°969 and n°1026)

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