Brussels - The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (of which Seas At Risk is a steering group member) has welcomed the agreement reached on 30 June by the European Parliament, Council of Ministers, and European Commission on key provisions for a new European Union (EU) regulation on deep-sea fishing.

It includes a ban on bottom trawling below 800 metres and would close areas to bottom trawling below 400 metres where vulnerable marine ecosystems are known or likely to occur.

The agreement comes four years after the Commission published a proposal for a new regulation on deep-sea fishing in the north-east Atlantic Ocean and two and a half years since the Parliament agreed to its position. Luxembourg, which held the rotating EU presidency for the second half of 2015, received a mandate from the Council of the EU’s 28 fisheries ministers in November to commence negotiations with the Parliament and Commission. Those discussions were concluded under The Netherlands, which assumed the presidency in January.

This agreement goes a good way towards meeting the commitments made by the EU at the U.N. General Assembly and applying them to protect deep-sea ecosystems in EU waters,” said Matthew Gianni of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition. “We urge vigorous implementation of the regulation once it is formally adopted and encourage the EU to continue working with other countries to enhance the protection of deep-sea ecosystems in international waters and to set science-based catch and bycatch limits for deep-sea fisheries in the north-east Atlantic.”

The European Parliament and Council are expected to adopt the final regulation later this year.

Seas At Risk Executive Director Monica Verbeek also welcomed the deal “After almost a decade since the Commission reviewed the existing deepsea fishing regulation, we very happy to welcome this long overdue protection for the fragile and little understood deep sea ecosystems. This is a very significant step in protect the deep sea environment”.

Infographic from Bloom on deep sea regulation

European Parliament release

European Council release