Deep Sea Trawling

Humans have always exploited the fruits of the sea, the amazing diversity and sheer abundance of food and materials have provided extensive resources and commercial income for many years. Now, there is growing concern about the impacts of fishing on the marine environment.

It is now common knowledge that fish stocks have declined significantly and the blame is usually attributed directly to intensive over-fishing. But there may be other contributory factors in the collapse, such as accidental by-catch and habitat destruction. Indirectly, these factors may disrupt nursery grounds and remove shelter for many fish species, reducing the input of new individuals and so reducing fish stocks even further.

In the past fishermen would try to avoid contacting rough ground such as cold-water coral reefs as they would shred their nets. This is highlighted by the French biologist Joubin. In 1915 he published a paper entitled: “Les coraux de mer profunde nuisibles aux chalutiers.” Translated it reads, “Deep-water corals, a nuisance for trawlers”. However, as offshore fishing vessels and the trawl gear they use have grown in size, it has become clear that deep-water trawling may have caused significant damage to cold-water coral ecosystems around the world

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