How can we better protect vulnerable marine ecosystems in the high seas?

How can we better protect vulnerable marine ecosystems in the high seas?

The European Commission is seeking comments on measures to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems from the harmful effects of bottom fishing gear on the high seas.

You can participate in the call for evidence and even public consultation February 5, 2024.

Vulnerable marine ecosystems are fragile and sensitive areas, home to a wide range of marine life, including many slow-growing, long-lived deep-water species. Damage caused by bottom fishing gear can threaten the integrity of ecosystems, among other things, by impairing their natural productivity in the long term.

In 2008, the European Union adopted a regulation on the protection of vulnerable high seas marine ecosystems from the harmful effects of deep-sea fishing gear. The European Commission is currently evaluating the performance of this regulation and is requesting feedback to better shape this initiative.

The Committee invites all stakeholders, including the fishing industry, non-governmental organizations, academic, scientific, social and economic partners, and citizens to share their views.

The purpose of this consultation is to collect information and experiences related to the implementation of the initiative. Stakeholder views on the effectiveness of the regulation are valuable and will assist the Committee in making evidence-based assessments of its performance. This public consultation may also help identify areas where current regulation needs to be amended or new initiatives are needed.

The need to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems

Vulnerable marine ecosystems are essential for ocean health:

  • They provide an important habitat for a wide range of marine life, and play a role in climate regulation. Seamounts, canyons, coral reefs and hydrothermal vents are biodiversity hotspots.
  • They attract large numbers of fish, plants and organisms such as sponges, corals and anemones that are slow-growing and long-lived.

Physical contact with bottom trawling, hydrocarbon exploration, submarine cable laying, waste dumping or overexploitation may damage vulnerable marine ecosystems, requiring hundreds of years to fully recover.

background

In 2006, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution setting conditions for bottom fishing on the high seas (resolution 61/105). He called on organizations to adopt conservation measures to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems from the significant negative impacts of bottom fishing or to stop bottom fishing where vulnerable marine ecosystems are likely to exist.

As a result, in 2008 the European Union adopted specific legislation, Council Regulation (EC) No 734/2008 on the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems on the high seas from the harmful effects of bottom-fishing gear (‘the Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems Regulation’) if There was no regional fisheries management organization competent to regulate these fishing activities. The regulation implements a system requiring fishing vessels to obtain a permit to operate in a specific area before commencing fishing activities.

By protecting vulnerable marine ecosystems on the high seas, the European Union is helping to ensure a healthy and sustainable ocean for future generations.

more information

Protecting the seabed from bottom trawling by fishing vessels – Evaluation

Improving the environmental sustainability of deep-sea fisheries with a focus on the conservation of vulnerable marine ecosystems – Publications Office of the European Union

(tags for translation) Biodiversity

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