Bottom trawling will not be phased out

Greenpeace has criticised the vote as inadequate protect fragile deep-sea ecosystems from the destructive impacts of bottom trawling and deep-sea gillnetting. © Greenpeace Greenpeace has criticised the vote as inadequate to protect fragile deep-sea ecosystems from the destructive impacts of bottom trawling and deep-sea gillnetting. © Greenpeace

The European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee has voted to ban bottom trawling in areas of the North East Atlantic with vulnerable marine ecosystems, but not to phase out bottom trawling altogether.

"I am pleased to announce that in today's
[4 November] 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,” said rapporteur Kriton Arsenis.

“Unfortunately, the committee did not back the Commission proposal to phase out deep-sea bottom trawling altogether.”

However, the Committee has introduced a review clause, asking the Commission to evaluate the impact of deep-sea fishing gear on vulnerable deep-sea species and marine ecosystems after four years, with the possibility of proposing a general phase out of bottom trawling afterwards.

Greenpeace has criticised the outcome of the vote, and the organisation’s EU fisheries policy director Saskia Richartz said: “The Parliament’s fisheries committee has fallen for the siren song of the EU’s most destructive fishing fleet. The danger now is that EU governments sweep this issue under the carpet. But bottom trawling and gillnetting are shocking practices. They contribute only around one per cent of the EU’s total catch, yet they suck up millions of Euros in subsidies, destroy large areas of fragile sea-floor and overfish many deep-sea species.”

The draft legislation now must be approved by plenary, possibly in December or January, and then MEPs will enter into negotiations with the Council for an agreement, which must then be put to a second reading vote in plenary.

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