The European Commission decided on Thursday 15 September to close parts of the Northeast Atlantic to bottom fishing. The measure is aimed at protecting vulnerable ecosystems in the deep sea, the Brussels Times reported.

The Commission said it was closing “87 sensitive zones” off the coasts of France, Portugal, Spain and Ireland for bottom fishing gear such as trawls, gillnets and bottom longlines. The protected zone extends over an area of 16,400 km2, at depths ranging between 400 and 800 metres, and includes vulnerable ecosystems such as cold-water coral reefs and deep-sea hills.

“By closing 17% of the areas between 400 and 800 metres in European waters in the Northeast Atlantic to bottom fishing gears, we are fulfilling our commitment to protect and restore marine life,” said Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius. Bottom fishing deeper than 800 meters has been banned for some time.

The new measure, an implementing decision under a 2016 regulation on deep-sea fishing, is the result of two years of consultations with Member States, the fishing industry and non-governmental organisations. The ban will take effect 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

As well as the Brussels Times, the story was covered in numerous publications, including Seas at Risk, the European Union and Le Monde.

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