Conservative MEPs in the European Parliament were strongly criticised today in Strasbourg for voting against a proposal from the Socialists and Democrats to introduce a clear ban on deep-sea trawling.
A number of scientific institutes and environmental organisations have highlighted how trawling the sea bed with huge and heavy industrial nets is an incredibly destructive practice. The effects on marine ecosystems are comparable to the effects of large-scale fires on forestry.
S&D MEP Kriton Arsenis, the Parliament's negotiator on this topic, voiced his severe disappointment at the conservatives' opposition:
"We fought for the best solution – the protection of deep-sea fish and vulnerable marine ecosystems. The Parliament gave in to industry demands and voted against a ban on sea-bed trawling and the move to selective fishing gear.
"Now is the moment of truth for the Council. Will it accept this weak position or will it try to ensure deep-sea stocks are protected?
"EU citizens are looking forward to hearing their response. Otherwise they will start asking who is blocking the agreements necessary to protect the deep-sea environment."
Ulrike Rodust, S&D MEP and spokesperson on fisheries and the Parliament's negotiator on the newly adopted reform of EU fisheries policy, said:
"The good news today is that two French supermarket giants have decided not to sell deep-sea fish anymore. European consumers have proven that they have the power to make a difference. I call on the Council to immediately start negotiations on regulating deep-sea fisheries."