Fishers have had to sail further and fish in ever deeper waters as easy-to-catch fish stocks close to home have steadily been depleted. Modern vessels can fish at depths of over a kilometre. Unfortunately, fish found at such extreme depths are biologically vulnerable to rapid over-exploitation since they grow and reproduce so slowly.
Many North Atlantic fish stocks are now depleted and the United Nations has adopted resolutions calling for their more sustainable management. The European Commission's very good proposal would have led to the phasing out within two years of all fishing by certain types of vessels targeting deep-sea species, while allowing incidental catches to continue but with better checks and documentation.
What was the Greens' position?
The Greens supported the Commission's idea to ban deep-sea trawling, but would have liked to see it simply put a stop to all fishing below 600 metres using any gear that damages the sea bed.
We believe this is the only certain way of preserving the fragile and diverse ecosystems that exist there.
Did other MEPs accept the Greens' position?
A number of positive measures were agreed in negotiations with the other political groups, , including a system for the identification, scientific assessment and subsequent protection of 'vulnerable marine ecosystems'.
We also agreed on a requirement that areas not fished in the past must undergo an impact assessment before fishing is allowed to begin. Neither of these excellent proposals had featured in the Commission's original proposal.
Which points did the Greens lose?
Opposition to the ban on deep-sea fishing from both the fishing industry and its supporters in Parliament's Committee on Fisheries was so strong that this essential conservation measure was defeated. Almost all EPP group MEPs voted against better environmental protection, and they were joined by Spanish, Portuguese and French colleagues from the S&D group.
Consequently, the deep seas remain open to fishing, albeit subject to slightly stricter conditions. This was not enough for us. The Greens voted against the report.
Procedure:Ordinary legislative procedure
Lead MEP:Kriton Arsenis (S&D)
Green MEP responsible:Raül Romeva
Staff contact:Michael Earle (Email)
Outcome of the vote
Below you find the results of the final vote in plenary. How did the political groups vote? What about national delegations? And what was the position of your MEP?