Limiting the use of bottom trawls in the deep sea

Just received this via email. If your a scientist  please go sign.

Hi folks,

I am sending you this special plea to ask for your help in  limiting the use of bottom trawls in the deep sea. We know from more than 250 research papers that bottom trawling is easily the most habitat destructive method of fishing the world has ever seen, and now bottom trawls are being used on seamounts and selected areas of the continental slope.

The European Parliament has before it a bill that would require all deep sea fishing vessels in the EU to change to some other gear over the next two years. Money is being made available to help this happen. And all the fish currently being caught can be caught with bottom hooks on a long line. Telmo Morato in the Azores has shown that it takes about 260 sets of bottom hooks to bring up the same about of bycatch as one bottom trawl. So there are good reasons to phase out bottom trawling.

From an economic perspective there are not very many boats doing this kind of fishing, and the number of people employed is quite small. Further, in France and Spain, the two main countries involved in deep sea bottom trawling in Europe, the boats are owned by large million-dollar corporations whose operations are subsidized by the EU. So this will not cause an economic hardship for small boat owners.

The bill in front of the EU parliament is being considered by two committees, the Environment Committee and the Fisheries Committee. The Environment Committee has already voted 58 to 1 to allow it to be debated by the full parliament. The Fisheries Committee has been dragging its feet, primarily due to maneuvering by the French and Spanish delegates. It needs a push….

So, what I want you to do is join the 270 other scientists who have already signed a petition addressed to the president of France asking him to change France’s position on this legislation and allow it to go to the full parliament for a vote. If it does, it will probably pass and become law, making Europe the first region of the world to actively protect its deep-sea fauna.

The petition of course is in French. If you do not read French we want (in order) your first name, last name, e-mail, city (put your institution if you like rather than city) and country.

Here is the page with the petition:

Here is the page with the list of people who have already signed.

Both pages translate very well with Google Translate.

You will see that some institutions with big marine programs are well represented and others are not. If yours is one of the “are not”, could you please circulate this on your local list.

Thanks so much for your help. It is critical that the world’s biologists come together on this. It will be precedent-setting and may slow the onslaught of deep-sea habitat destruction.

Best regards,

Les Watling
Department of Biology
University of Hawaii at Manoa


Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

, ,
2 comments on “Limiting the use of bottom trawls in the deep sea
  1. Pingback: Limiting the use of bottom trawls in the deep sea | PONG-Pesca

  2. Craig, a belated thanks for posting this. Shows I should read deep-sea news more frequently that once every two weeks…. still, love all the posts…
    There is another, longer statement, that we have about 200 scientists signed on to. If anyone would like to sign onto that one as well, they can contact me directly. We will be happy to have the additional help. All this comes to a head on Sept. 20 in the EU Fisheries Committee….
    Thanks again,

Comments are closed.