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The Deep Sea Dilemma: Protecting Vulnerable Ecosystems in EU Waters

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition has persistently urged the European Union to uphold its obligations in safeguarding the fragile ecosystems of the deep ocean from the adverse impacts of destructive bottom fishing. This advocacy began as far back as 2012 when the European Commission initially proposed the Deep-Sea Access Regulation.



Will the EU Uphold it's Obligations?
European Union Flag

After years of extensive debate and negotiations, the regulation was eventually adopted in 2016. However, due to limited cooperation and political adversary among certain EU member states with influential fishing industry lobbies, it wasn't until 2022 that the first closures were implemented, which was four years later than required by the regulation.



Graph showing bottom trawling success from the Market Advisory Council
Ban on Bottom Trawling Works

Now, just a year later, the regulation's future is in question. As the EU reviews the annual list of proposed area closures for 2023, as advised by the EU's scientific advisory body, ICES, certain member states are opposing further closures.


For the EU to honour its commitments to biodiversity, it must remain resolute in its dedication to protecting the deep sea. This necessitates going beyond the interests of commercial fishing and recognising the intrinsic value of these distinctive and delicate ecosystems. Their remarkable vulnerability underscores the need for continued protection by the European Commission.



Trawler nets
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash.

The protection of our planet's deep-sea ecosystems is an ongoing challenge, one that requires a delicate balance between economic interests and environmental responsibility. The European Union, having taken significant steps towards safeguarding its vulnerable marine environments, must stay steadfast in its commitment to these unique and fragile ecosystems.


Species of deep-sea sharks and rays are highly susceptible to overfishing, as the depletion of their populations can result in a recovery period spanning centuries.


It's a matter of recognising their intrinsic value and the broader obligation to preserve biodiversity for future generations. As debates continue and decisions are made, the world watches to see if the EU will remain a visionary leader in the conservation and restoration of these vital ecosystems.



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