Environmental Initiatives

Media Inquiries

If you are a journalist and would like additional information, please visit the Media Contacts page.

Media Contacts

Subscribe to News Feeds

Pew offers news delivered to your desktop via RSS feed. Subscribing is easy. To learn more or get started, follow the link below.

Subscribe to News Feeds

For The Record

When Pew’s work is questioned or criticized we respond through letters to the editor or op-eds.

Read Pew's Responses

At Last, a Ray of Hope Reaches the Deep Sea

Other Resource

Press release:

  • EU Commission Makes History with Proposal to Phase Out Bottom Trawling for Deep-Sea Species
  • The future may finally be brighter for the countless animals living in the depths of the sea. In a long-awaited move, the European Commission today proposed a phase-out of the destructive practice of deep-sea bottom trawling in the northeast Atlantic Ocean. Now the European Parliament and EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council must negotiate an agreement on the proposal before adopting legislation.

    The deep sea begins at a depth of about 200 meters (650 feet), where most light cannot penetrate, and extends to the bottom of the ocean, an average depth of 4,000 meters (more than two miles). It is a world of massive canyons, erupting volcanoes, rivers, waterfalls, and 8,500-year-old coral reefs. Scientists once thought the deep sea was an empty abyss but now realize it is teeming with complex collections of animals ranging from single-celled bacteria to vertebrates—life forms unlike anything found close to the surface. The deep sea contains an extraordinarily biodiverse range of species, including two-thirds of the world’s coral species.



    Most species of deep-sea fish grow slowly and reproduce late in their long lives. For example, some deep-dwelling species found in the northeast Atlantic are known to live for up to 130 years. These characteristics make them highly vulnerable to depletion, and in some cases extinction, from overfishing. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) estimated in 2010 that 100 percent of the catch of deep-sea species by the EU is “outside safe biological limits,” meaning that overfishing could quickly drive them to extinction.

    Read our deep-sea trawling policy analysis:

    Out of the Abyss


    But because of new fishing technologies and gear, many of those species are under assault. In addition, fishing fleets cause significant harm to the ocean ecosystem by bottom trawling on fragile deep-sea habitats and overfishing vulnerable animals. This fishing method, which drags massive nets weighted with steel plates and cables across the seafloor, is recognized as the greatest threat to deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems, according to scientific papers and reports from ICES, the United Nations Environment Programme, the European Union’s deep-sea Hermione Project, and others.

    The North Atlantic has been a hot spot for deep-sea bottom trawling since the 1970s. A large portion of the European Union’s deep-sea fish catch is taken in this way, predominantly by French and Spanish fleets. Many EU deep-sea bottom trawl fleets are bolstered by public subsidies, meaning that European taxpayer money is being used to destroy deep-sea life.

    The United Nations recognizes the threat from deep-sea bottom trawling, and in a series of General Assembly resolutions from 2004 to 2011, called for measures to ensure protection of this imperiled environment. These include conducting prior impact assessments to design and evaluate management actions to prevent significant adverse impacts on vulnerable deep-sea habitats and species.

    The Pew Environment Group lauds Commissioner Damanaki for issuing the proposal. We now urge the EU to fully implement its obligations under the U.N. resolutions and to overhaul the management of deep-sea fisheries within EU waters, or to stop deep-sea bottom trawling altogether. Specifically, Pew recommends the European Parliament and EU member States strengthen the proposal further by:

    • Requiring impact assessments for all deep-sea fisheries, not just new ones. 
    • Requiring fishing closures in deep-sea areas where vulnerable marine species are known or likely to live unless these areas can be managed to prevent significant adverse impacts. 
    • Requiring that all animals be sustainably caught—including those taken incidentally (bycatch)—and that all bycatch be landed unless there is adequate justification (e.g., potentially high survival rate) for throwing it back.

    Pew strongly urges EU policymakers to seize this opportunity to permanently protect the fish and other marine animals whose habitat is the deep sea.

     

    Related News and Resources

    • Sea Life in New South Wales at Risk

      • Other Resource
      • Apr 11, 2014
      A controversial plan by the New South Wales government to allow recreational fishing in marine sanctuary areas could undermine decades of progress that protected the state’s most important underwater areas and unique species, and provided well-documented economic benefits.

      More

    • Pew Comments on Offshore Angler Permit Proposal

      • Other Resource
      • Apr 10, 2014
      On behalf of The Pew Charitable Trusts, Chad W. Hanson, Officer of the U.S. Oceans Southeast, submitted comments to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regarding the proposed Gulf Offshore Recreational Fishing Permit (offshore permit).

      More

    • Pew Praises Ratification of Treaty to Fight Illegal Fishing Worldwide

      • Press Release
      • Apr 03, 2014
      The United States Senate on April 3 took a strong stand in the global fight against illegal fishing by ratifying a treaty that will prevent illegally caught fish from entering the market through ports around the world. The treaty, called the Port State Measures Agreement, or PSMA, also would empower port officials to prohibit foreign vessels that are suspected of illegal activity from receiving port services and access. By cutting off market access for illegally caught fish, the treaty will erode the profit incentive that drives the activity.

      More

    • Protecting the High Seas From Peril

      • Other Resource
      • Apr 01, 2014
      All the activity in the open ocean raises questions about who is monitoring and managing the ocean’s long-term health. As of now, the job is vacant, which is why delegates from around the world are at the United Nations in New York City this week.

      More

    • Climate Change Taking Toll on the Ocean

      • Other Resource
      • Mar 31, 2014
      A United Nations panel released its latest assessment of the impact of climate change on the world’s environment, focusing on issues such as food supply and economic security.

      More

    • EU Bans Fish Imports from 3 Countries

      • Press Release
      • Mar 24, 2014
      Today the Environmental Justice Foundation, Oceana, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and WWF welcome a decision by the European Union Fisheries Council, comprising all 28 fisheries ministers, to ban the importation of fish from Belize, Cambodia, and Guinea for their failure to cooperate in fighting illegal, unreported, and unregulated, or IUU, fishing.

      More

    • Exxon Valdez Spill, 25 Years Later

      • Other Resource
      • Mar 21, 2014
      Just before midnight March 24, 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef in Alaska, causing the largest oil spill in U.S. history to that point. In the weeks that followed, a shocked world watched as the tanker spewed approximately 11 million gallons of oil into the formerly pristine and delicate Prince William Sound.

      More

    • Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management

      • Fact Sheet
      • Mar 20, 2014
      Ensuring the long-term health of important marine species will depend upon our ability to understand and account for the interactions among those species, their environment, and the people who rely upon them for food, commerce, and sport.

      More

    • Protecting New England's Marine Ecosystem: Habitat at Risk

      • Other Resource
      • Mar 12, 2014
      Some areas of New England’s waters have been closed to various types of fishing gear for decades in order to encourage the return of healthy populations of important groundfish (such as cod, haddock, and flounder), but the region does not have a plan for habitat management, as required by federal law.

      More

    • Pew le otorga al científico Hoyt Peckham la beca de investigación 2014 en conservación de recursos marinos

      • Press Release
      • Mar 12, 2014
      El Dr. Hoyt Peckham, un pionero en la incentivación de la pesca artesanal para promover el manejo de los recursos marinos con sede en La Paz, México, ha recibido una beca de investigación Pew 2014 en la conservación de dichos recursos marinos para ampliar su trabajo en la incentivación de la pesca sostenible a lo largo de la costa del noroeste de México a otras comunidades de la región y a nivel mundial. Peckham está trabajando con los pescadores locales y sus cooperativas para restablecer el valor de sus pesquerías, reforzando sus prácticas de sostenibilidad mediante el aumento de la demanda de sus mariscos y sus pescados.

      More

    • On the Front Lines: Pew Names 5 New Marine Conservation Fellows for 2014

      • Other Resource
      • Mar 12, 2014
      Five distinguished scientists and conservationists based in Malaysia, Chile, Mexico, and the United States are this year’s recipients of the Pew fellowship in marine conservation.

      More

    • Pew Awards Author Paul Greenberg the 2014 Fellowship in Marine Conservation

      • Press Release
      • Mar 12, 2014
      Paul Greenberg—an award-winning journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller, Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food—has been awarded a 2014 Pew fellowship in marine conservation to prepare a book focusing on the human demand for Omega 3 fatty acids found in seafood and its impact on the sustainability of the world’s oceans.

      More

    • Pew le otorga al científico chileno Stefan Gelcich la beca de investigación 2014 en conservación de recursos marinos

      • Press Release
      • Mar 12, 2014
      Se ha reconocido al Dr. Stefan Gelcich, profesor adjunto de la Pontifica Universidad Católica de Chile con una beca de investigación Pew 2014 para la conservación de recursos marinos en un nuevo proyecto que examinará los incentivos sociales, económicos y ecológicos que permitan desarrollar zonas de protección, en conjunto con pescadores artesanales, a lo largo de la costa chilena. Este científico estudiará la integración de áreas marinas protegidas y pesquerías con derechos de uso territorial, como una estrategia para la conservación a largo plazo de los recursos oceánicos y su sostenibilidad.

      More

    • Pew Awards Shark Scientist Demian Chapman the 2014 Fellowship in Marine Conservation

      • Press Release
      • Mar 12, 2014
      Demian Chapman, Ph.D., a scientist with Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, has been awarded a 2014 Pew fellowship in marine conservation for a new research project to determine how recently enacted international regulations affect the trade in the fins of protected shark species. Sharks have been heavily fished to supply the international fin trade, depriving marine ecosystems of some of their most important top predators and endangering species dependent on them.

      More

    • Pew Awards Scientist Hoyt Peckham the 2014 Fellowship in Marine Conservation

      • Press Release
      • Mar 12, 2014
      Hoyt Peckham, Ph.D., a pioneer of incentivizing artisanal fishing to advance marine stewardship based in La Paz, México, has been awarded a 2014 Pew fellowship in marine conservation to expand on his work on incentivizing sustainable fishing along the coast of Northwest Mexico to other communities in the region and around the world. Peckham is working with local fishers and their cooperatives to restore value in their fisheries, reinforcing their sustainability practices by increasing demand for their seafood.

      More

    See more...

    X
    Sign In

    Member Sign In

    Forgot Password?
    Submit Not a Member? Join!
    X

    Forgot Password?

    Send Password Not a Member? Join!
    X

    Change Password

    X
    (All Fields are required)
    Send Message
    Share this on: