Bottom Trawling: Images


Click to enlarge. Infographic by Don Foley

Bottom trawls, enormous fishing nets that are dragged across the sea floor, clear-cut everything living in their path. The mouths of the largest nets are big enough to swallow a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, and trawls and dredges can destroy century-old coral reefs in mere moments.

Heavy doors keep the mouth of the net open and on the seafloor. Rubber and steel rockhoppers roll across the seafloor, while floats lift open the net above them. 

Click here to see more Bottom Trawling Images on Vimeo.


How Extensive is the Damage?

  • The largest deep-sea bottom-trawling ships—“supertrawlers” —are 450 feet or longer (the length of 1.5 football fields).
  • A large trawler can drag over a half-acre swath of seabed with one pass.
  • High-seas bottom trawlers destroy 580 square miles of seabed each day.
  • Deep-sea trawling destroys seabed habitat at a faster rate than the aggregate loss of the world’s tropical rain forests.
  • European scientists have calculated that bottom-dragging trawlers in the North Sea destroy 16 pounds of marine animals for every pound of marketable sole that is caught.


Fisherman at the stern of the trawler Nuevo Panchita rolling up the nets with uprooted gorgonians after fishing ilegally at approximately 23 meters depth and at less than 6 miles from the coast. Mazagón, Huelva, Spain. Catamaran Oceana Ranger Mediterranean Expedition. September 2007. © OCEANA / Jesús RenedoBycatch of basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) in a spanish trawler in NAFO area. 2005. © OCEANA


Trawling marks

Broken rhizomes and trawling signs in the seagrass bed forming a street. Santanyi, Majorca, Balearic Islands, Spain. Balearic islands: Bottom trawling and marine reserves campaign. 2005Trawling scar mark on the muddy seabed. Santa Maria di Leuca, Italy. Marviva Med Mediterranean Expedition. August 2008.


Type of trawlers

Turkish beam trawler fishing. North of Limnos island, Greece. Marviva Med Mediterranean Expedition. August 2008.Pelagic trawler in Camariñas, Spain. August 2007.Fishermen rolling up the nets in a pelagic trawler in the port of Muxia, Spain. August 2007.Trawler Roz Avel II unloading seafood in the harbour of Guilvinec, Brittany, France. September 2007.Small trawler sailing. Rose, Sweden. Oceana Hanse Explorer Baltic Sea Expedition. April 2011.