Bottom trawling denounced as the worst fishing technique
Home »Economy» Bottom trawling denounced as the worst fishing technique January 3, 2022
Activists from the Ocean Rebellion association denounce bottom trawling during COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland, October 30, 2021. ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP
While the European Union is preparing an “action plan for the ocean” for the spring to protect marine ecosystems, environmental organizations are concentrating their efforts on one fishing technique in particular: seabed trawling. It consists of scraping the ocean floor with heavy machinery, capturing species almost indiscriminately, all with a lot of fuel. He is considered as “The most harmful for the environment and the climate” by a coalition of NGOs – Oceana, Seas at Risk, Our Fish, Environmental Justice Foundation, among others.
As part of the public consultation open until January 10, on December 20, 2021, it filed a petition, with more than 152,000 signatories, to the European Commissioner in charge of this sector, Virginijus Sinkevicius. He calls for an immediate ban on bottom trawling in all marine protected areas – this is currently far from being the case in Germany, the Netherlands or France. This practice is also denounced in a detailed summary published on December 9, written by some forty academics, NGOs and environmental consultants, with the financial support of American foundations (Oceans 5, Oak Foundation and Oceankind).
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Globally, bottom trawls – regardless of vessel size and type of net – represent a significant share of all fisheries: around 26%, report the authors. Each year, these nets carry at least 30 million tonnes of seafood, roughly the equivalent of what all artisanal fishermen catch. The rest corresponds to various other gears: pelagic trawls, set nets, longlines, etc., industrial or not. Bottom trawlers operate almost exclusively in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of coastal countries, rarely venturing beyond 200 nautical miles. They are even partially confined within 12 miles of the shore where they take 20% of their catch. They then find themselves in direct competition with the boats of the craftsmen and the canoes of the local communities.
Fierce rivalry between states
“Global catches could increase if there was less trawling. When you overfish, the yields decrease for everyone ”, said Daniel Pauly. This internationally renowned specialist is behind the Sea Around Us program at the Canadian University of British Columbia, which reconstructed decades of seafood catches from 1950 to 2018. The Bottom Trawl Impacts Report is based on on this exceptional database, as well as on a review of the scientific literature. . Its authors find that this fishing method peaked at 36.5 million tonnes in 1989, before declining all over the world. Except in Asia, which has not followed the same trend, quite the contrary.
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