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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

"Why the UK government should act on bottom trawling" or Why should the UK Government act on bottom trawling?

Your thoughts?

In a recent article, The Guardian's Robin McKie explains that bottom trawling, if allowed to continue unchecked, could leave the seas empty in the next 150 years.
Bottom trawling is the practice of dragging heavy nets along the seabed in order to catch the fish that thrive there, including cod and haddock. And, as a result of this - as proved by evidence presented in a report from the the University of York - fish stocks have decreased dramatically. "Twenty years ago, we used to get 600 or 700 a head of fish a day," says B Simpson, a line-fisherman who worked off Spurn Point, Grimsby. "Now they cannot get above 20 head, or three or four score at the outside."

But the impact does not stop there; there has also been considerable damage to the seabed, which not only triggers a further depletion of fish stocks but also wrecks reefs, sponges and shellfish, without giving any chance for recuperation.

Here is Callum Roberts giving his take on the subject:

We are then left, argues Callum Roberts - author of Ocean of Life - in a state where there is nothing left that is worth catching. However, the European Commission has decided that Britain can not afford to block bottom trawling, declaring, "unrestricted freedom of fishing should be permitted." And furthermore, as McKie explains, the UK government doesn't seem to be doing enough.
After arranging a consultation on the topic, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) only agreed to consult on 31 of the 127 proposed Marine Protection Zones - a number which was later reduced to 27. Furthermore, they also dropped the idea of reference areas which would have provided the opportunity to demonstrate the state of marine features when left alone while also providing a control site from which to measure the impact of human activities in other marine areas.
However, bottom trawling does not happen everywhere around the UK. Because of pressure being applied by Non-Governmental Organisations, such as the Marine Conservation Society (MSC), the practice has been banned is some Marine Protected Areas including one in Cornwall. "This point is backed by Roberts," says McKie, quoting, "there is little to be cheerful about when it comes to our marine environment, which makes recent successes with those areas protected by EU law – although limited in extent – all the more pleasing."
Posted by Grace Philip on February 11, 2014 at 11:26am in News and Blogs 

This was a recent post on the FishNet site - created by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) as part of its work on fisheries.