Seascape Managing Director Phil Weaver joined fellow scientists and MPs in calling for an end to destructive bottom trawling below 600m in European waters. At a recent event at the UK’s House of Commons, Prof. Weaver (right) presented relevant research results from the HERMIONE project that demonstrate the fragility of deep-sea ecosystems and their vulnerability to bottom trawling.
Bottom trawling is a particular problem for the UK, where one third of its surrounding seas are deeper than 600m. The vast majority of fish legally caught in these deep waters are taken by French and Spanish vessels using bottom trawling, whereas only a handful of small UK vessels operate at these depths. Bottom trawl gear severely damages vast expanses of the seafloor, destroying unique habitats and ecosystems to the point where recovery is highly unlikely. Bottom trawling is used in pursuit of only a few fish species, but the by-catch of non-target species is very high.
Sixty UK marine scientists have written an open letter to the UK fisheries minister George Eustice urging an end to this destructive fishing practice. The campaign is supported by MPs Richard Benyon and Ben Bradshaw, and it is hoped that these actions will encourage the European Union to take strong action.
Date: 22 January 2015