Bottom trawling should be banned in areas with vulnerable marine ecosystems to be listed by the Commission, but not phased out altogether, said the Fisheries Committee in Monday's vote on a draft EU regulation on fishing deep-sea stocks in the North-East Atlantic.
"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. Unfortunately, the committee did not back the Commission proposal to phase out deep-sea bottom trawling altogether", said rapporteur Kriton Arsenis (S&D, EL), whose report was adopted with 19 votes in favour, 0 against and 4 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.
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.
The draft legislation still needs to be approved by plenary, possibly in December or January. After that, MEPs will enter into negotiations with the Council for an agreement, which must then be put to a second reading vote in plenary.
Committee on Fisheries
In the chair: Gabriel Mato Adrover (EPP, ES)
Procedure: codecision, first reading