Labour support deep-sea conservation, while Tories vote against

fishing trawlerA proposed ban on deep-sea trawling narrowly failed to be adopted in the European Parliament yesterday, as a result of Tory MEPs & right wing allies voting it down.

Labour MEPs supported the ban, which would have phased out trawling below a depth of 600 metres, the most destructive fishing activity according to scientists, as a key part of their commitment towards a more sustainable EU Common Fisheries Policy.

Tory MEPs, however, joined forces with other right-wing groups to vote down the ban, and also voted to delay progress on the draft legislation, meaning better conservation measures for deep-sea species are unlikely to be taken forward until after the 2014 European elections.

Glenis Willmott, Labour’s Leader in the European Parliament, said:

“All the major scientific evidence pointed to the need for this ban, yet Tory MEPs failed to back the proposal.

“To prioritise a very small sector of the fishing fleet and this most destructive activity, when we could have created long term sustainability of our oceans, shows their lack of commitment on this issue.

“This is especially clear when we know less-destructive fishing gears can be used which cause no damage to the sea bed and support more jobs.”

Currently a small number of large fishing vessels, primarily from France and Spain, are able to cause enormous damage to the sea bed using an outdated and indiscriminate technique. The proposal would specifically ban the trawling method, whilst allowing other more sustainable deep-sea fishing to continue.

Such a precautionary measure is needed due to the high vulnerability of deep-sea stocks and the delicate ecosystems and unique biodiversity on the sea bed, which provide opportunities for scientific research.

Glenis Willmott added:

“It is now up to member state governments to take a position on the issue, and we are urging the government to show some commitment to protecting the deep-sea environment.”



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