Azara Blog: Scientists want a moratorium on bottom-trawling

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Date published: 2006/11/16

The BBC says:

Marine scientists say the case for a moratorium on the use of heavy trawling gear in deep waters is now overwhelming and should be put in place immediately.

A new report prepared for the UN indicates the equipment is doing immense damage to the ecosystems around seamounts, or underwater mountains.

Its analysis shows bottom-trawling is being used in regions which harbour particularly sensitive corals.

The UN's General Assembly will resume discussions on the issue this week.

They are set to conclude on 21 November.

"At the very minimum we want an agreement this year to freeze any further expansion of bottom-trawl fisheries," said Matthew Gianni of the campaign group Deep Sea Conservation Coalition.

"We also want to see established a reverse burden of proof; that is, you cannot fish on the high seas using bottom gear unless you can prove you are not going to do damage to the ecosystems in which those fisheries will take place."

Just another example of the fishing industry needing global regulation. But there is no way to "prove you are not going to do damage to the ecosystems" because anything you do will damage the ecosystem in some sense. The question, as usual, is what is the relative cost of the damage compared with the relative benefit, and in this case the former is almost certainly much larger than the latter. And also, the fishing industry takes the benefit without the cost, which is the reason we need regulation.

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