The Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture voted on the Commission’s proposal to close vulnerable areas to fishing gears which touch the seabed. This proposal aims to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) in deep waters and the Member States’ support brings it step closer to becoming law.
In line with the Deep-sea Access Regulation, the conservation measure closes certain zones of the EU deep waters to all bottom gears, ranging from deep-sea long lining to bottom trawling. The measure establishes the closure of 57 vulnerable habitats in the North-East Atlantic, where VMEs, such as sea pens, corals or anemones, are present or where their presence is likely, according to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) scientists. This is an important step towards the sustainable management of the seas and oceans, in line with the European Green Deal. Furthermore, the Commission adopted the Nature Restoration Law last week, where it committed to restoring marine habitats such as seagrasses or sediment bottoms.
The deep-sea world remains relatively difficult to explore. Scientists have developed a method of evaluating the presence of VMEs according to a high, medium or low index. The act includes all levels of the index, applying the precautionary principle with a minimised disruption of fishing activities.
The Commission proposal had been submitted to the agreement of the Committee for Fisheries and Aquaculture, composed of the representatives of each EU Member State. After the committee vote, the Commission is allowed to conclude the procedure and adopt the measure.