Advocacy groups call on Germany to lead in restricting bottom trawling

This week, in two key votes, the European Parliament called on the EU to urgently tackle the damage that bottom trawling causes to marine life and a stable climate, and to prohibit all damaging extractive industrial activities in marine protected areas. 

This strong signal shows that political momentum is building, and all nations must step up to make true ocean protection a reality, said Oceana and the Environmental Justice Foundation. Germany especially, as a key player in the EU and current president of the G7, has the power to translate ocean pledges into concrete and ambitious action.

Steve Trent, CEO and founder of the Environmental Justice Foundation, said: “Current levels of ocean protection are a cause for international shame – especially in the EU. Less than 1% of EU waters are actually protected from destructive fishing like bottom trawling, and in fact studies have found that trawling is 1.4 times more intense within so-called ‘protected’ areas. This degradation endangers both our climate and the planet’s irreplaceable marine life.

“Germany has a unique opportunity to bring nations together to safeguard our climate, fisheries, and ocean ecosystems. At the G7 meetings this summer, at the UN Biodiversity conference COP15 in the autumn, and in EU discussions, Germany must lead on setting binding, measurable biodiversity restoration and conservation targets. In particular, bottom trawling in marine protected areas must be stopped.”

Vera Coelho, Senior Director of Advocacy at Oceana in Europe, said: “On paper, Germany has surpassed the 30% target for marine protection – but in reality very little of that is effectively protected against destructive fishing, such as bottom-trawling. 

“For instance, the Wadden Sea MPA in Lower Saxony, an iconic place designated as a National Park, a Natura 2000 site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, suffered from more than 22,000 hours of bottom-trawling inside its boundaries in 2021.

“The IUCN expressly recognizes bottom-trawling as industrial fishing, and industrial fishing is not compatible with any type of marine protected area. The German government has made ambitious commitments on marine protection. It now needs to lead by example, by truly protecting its MPAs against destructive fishing.”

Photo credit: iStock/ Irishka1

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