09 October 2013
Wave of change to protect deep ocean? First vote imminent at the European Parliament
09 October 2013
After 15 months of multiple hearings and delays, the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament has scheduled a vote on 17 October for a new EU regulation to manage deep-sea fisheries.
In July 2012, the European Commission proposed to reform the management of deep-sea fisheries by EU vessels and to protect deep-sea ecosystems in Europe and in the North-East Atlantic. Amongst other measures, the Commission proposed to phase-out the most destructive fishing methods in the deep-sea: deep-sea bottom trawling and gillnetting.
Since the release of the Commission proposal, the deep-sea trawl industry from France, Spain and Scotland have waged an aggressive campaign to defeat the proposed phase-out of deep-sea bottom trawling and gillnetting and to minimize the impact of the new regulation.
At the same time, a growing number of NGOs, scientists and citizens support the elimination of these fishing gears in the deep sea, strengthened protection of deep-sea ecosystems from the harmful impacts of bottom fishing, and much stricter limits of the catch and bycatch of deep-sea species.
Over 300 scientists have signed a declaration in support of a bottom trawl ban in the deep sea, and more than 20,000 citizens have signed BLOOM’s petition to French President François Hollande asking him to honor his past commitments, including at the RIO+20 Conference, that France would lead the way in “environmental excellence” and the protection of marine biodiversity.
Instead, France has been leading the opposition within the EU to the Commission proposal.
Richard Branson has now lent his voice in support of the protection of deep-sea species and ecosystems. His message of support to the campaign led by BLOOM and the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ewGs_s0Q1Y.
Interviews with other prominent scientists, politicians and advocates, including Members of the European Parliament Ulrike Rodust and Kriton Arsenis and Dr. Rainer Froese among others, are also posted here: http://www.bloomassociation.org/en/mobilisation-internationale-pour- defendre-les-oceans-profonds/
Gilles Boeuf, President of the French Natural History Museum and Les Watling, professor at the University of Hawaii have co-authored an article published in the New York Times last week http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/opinion/deep-sea-plunder-and-ruin.html?src=recg calling all 25 Members of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee to recognize the exceptional vulnerability of deep-sea species and ecosystems to overfishing and bottom trawling and to vote to decisively safeguard the deep ocean, one of the Earth’s greatest reservoirs of biodiversity.