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July 20, 2012

Banning deep-sea bottom trawling


Imagine a Boeing 747 (without passengers) landing without control on a natural park filled with century old trees and other species of great ecological value…

Now take a look at how bottom trawl nets work: they are huge nets (big enough to fit a Boeing 747 inside) that drag along the sea floor pulling enormous iron gates, which hold the mouth of the net open. As it moves, it destroys seagrass beds, corals and all kinds of fish that it is not targeting and which have no commercial value. Did you know that for every kilo of marketable fish up to 16 kilos of marine animals are destroyed?

Bottom trawling is also used in deep-sea areas, between 500 and 1500 m deep. The species caught at these depths are very vulnerable to exploitation as their reproductive cycles are very slow and they reach sexual maturity late, making it harder for populations to regenerate.

Eel, monkfish, lobster, sea bream, squid, megrim are some species that live at these depths. Their populations are being overexploited and the recovery is very slow or impossible.

Oceana is working to ensure the sustainable exploitation of all marine resources, including those in the deep-sea and we were happy to see that the recent proposal from the European Commission aims to ban bottom trawling in deep waters of the NorthEast Atlantic. It’s great news!