Pressure is mounting to ban “bottom trawling madness”
Biodiversity activists have collected 150,000 signatures across the EU as they urge the European Commission to ban bottom trawling.
Non-governmental organizations such as Oceana, Seas At Risk, Our Fish, WeMove Europe, Whale and Dolphin Conservation and Environmental Justice Foundation have presented a petition to the Environment Commissioner, Virginijus Sinkevičius, demanding an end to this practice.
According to the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, bottom trawling is a fishing practice that collects and captures target species, such as crabs and groundfish, by towing a net along the bottom of the sea. ocean.
While the practice is lucrative for fishermen, the administration says it is increasingly harmful to marine life besides fish as it captures so many other species outside of the intended target.
“Marine mammals can become entangled in trawl gear when they swim for food or migrate, with very different risks from species to species. Species that feed on or near the seabed are likely to ‘be captured or entangled in nets or tow lines,’ the administration said. .
Pilot whales and Atlantic common dolphins are particularly susceptible, according to the administration.
According to the activists who presented the petition to Commissioner Sinkevičius, bottom trawling “is widely used in Europe where it affects more than 50% of the seabed, and even takes place inside marine protected areas”.
The petition read: “Fishing nets as tall as a three-story building and as wide as a football field scoop the seabed every day. In seconds, these nets destroy everything in their path, killing dolphins, seals, corals, seahorses and hundreds of other marine life. “
Senior Director of Advocacy at Oceana in Europe, Vera Coelho, said: “Marine protected areas, as the name suggests, are supposed to protect marine life, but by 2020, over 2.5 million hours of Bottom trawling took place inside them.
“It is unacceptable that the EU continues to condone the destruction of the very places it has pledged to protect. This madness can and must be fixed now, for good.”
Oceana analyzed satellite tracking data from fishing vessels in 2020.
He revealed that five German sites were among the top 10 bottom trawled sites in Europe, while the French, Dutch and Danish sites were particularly vulnerable, according to his analysis.
Seas At Risk Director of Marine Policy Tobias Troll said a just transition is needed to low impact fishing to protect biodiversity and enable future generations of small-scale fishermen and coastal communities to have a good life.
Just Transition is the term used to describe securing employment opportunities and societal benefits for those who can live and work in communities linked to old energy industries, such as coal mining or mining. peat.
Our Fish Program Director, Rebecca Hubbard, said governments and institutions can’t just keep delivering on their promises and promises forever when time is running out and every tonne of carbon counts.
“It is time for the EU to make a serious commitment to abandon destructive fishing methods such as bottom trawling, which produces CO2 emissions by burning fuel, releasing carbon stored in the seabed and depleting the seabed. fish populations, and instead secures a sustainable and resilient future for our climate, ocean and coastal communities, ”she said.