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© Greenpeace / Virginia Lee Hunter Dear Commissioners, In the coming weeks, you will be deciding on a proposal that concerns one of the EU’s most destructive, least profitable, most fuel-intensive and subsidised fishing practices. Your decisions will determine the integrity of deep-sea ecosystems and the future of some of the most overexploited and vulnerable fish stocks in our seas. Yet only a small number of vessels and jobs are affected.
© Greenpeace / Kate Davison Our organisations believe that the EU cannot afford to keep these fisheries afloat and that the Commission should table a phase-out of all unsustainable deep-sea fisheries including a prohibition of deep-sea bottom trawling.
© C. Nouvian / D. Shale The deep sea begins around 200 meters below the surface, beyond the shelf edge, where light does not penetrate. It ends in the ocean’s abyss, at an average depth of 4,000 metres.
It is one of the planet’s largest reservoirs of biodiversity - home to more species of corals than shallow waters, some as old as 8,500 years.
Deep-sea ecosystems perform ecological and biogeochemical processes vital to the functioning of the world’s oceans and our climate. © Volcanoes of the Deep Sea / Stephen Low Co
© Greenpeace / Malcolm Pullman Deep-sea fisheries affect species, which live long, grow slowly and reproduce late in life – akin to humans and elephants. These factors make deep-sea species fundamentally vulnerable to overexploitation.
© Greenpeace / Virginia Lee Hunter Bottom trawl fishing is the most common and most destructive way to catch deep-sea fish. A bottom trawl drags huge, heavy nets across the sea floor, damaging the animals that populate deep-sea habitats, often irreversibly.
© Greenpeace / Malcolm Pullman Trawlers scrape up large cold water corals and can catch and kill species which are of no commercial value.
Up to half or more of what a bottom trawler catches and kills is discarded at sea. This is one of the highest discard rates in the European fleet. © Greenpeace / Roger Grace© Greenpeace / Kate Davison
© Greenpeace Scientific surveys have located trawl impacts even at m depth all along the Northeast Atlantic shelf break area off the coasts of Ireland, Scotland and Norway. © Greenpeace
Alarmingly, all deep-sea stocks exploited by EU fleets in the North East Atlantic are seriously depleted, according to the EU’s own assessments. © Greenpeace / Kate Davison
A deep-sea bottom trawler typically burns thousands of litres of fuel per day. This makes them extremely vulnerable to fuel price increases, and dependent on fuel subsidies. © Greenpeace / Kate Davison
Deep-sea bottom trawl fishing offers no room for controversy: it is destructive, unsustainable, unselective, fuel-intensive, a drain on the public purse and offers little value to the EU. We ask you to recommend a prohibition of deep-sea bottom trawling and a phase-out of unsustainable deep-sea fishing. © D Shale In the Commission’s own words: “[t]he progressive elimination of destructive fishing practices is an objective shared internationally and subscribed by the European Community.”
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