Mythical sea creature joins bid to ban bottom trawling

Sep 16, 2013
Photo of a French trawler taken February 2, 2006, during a fishing trip in the English Channel.

Environmentalists on Monday unveiled unprecedented footage of a legendary sea creature, the giant oarfish, as they stepped up a campaign against bottom trawling.

The origin of the myth of the sea serpent—a snake deemed capable of capsizing vessels and swallowing crew—the giant oarfish reaches a length of 11 metres (36 feet) and more than 250 kilos (550 pounds).

Eel-like in appearance, the creature (Regalecus glesne) is the world's longest bony fish.

It is only rarely seen by humans, and usually only as a bizarre, unwanted bycatch from commercial fishing.

At a press conference in Paris, ocean conservationists showed exclusive footage of the sinuous giant in its deep-sea environment as part of its effort to highlight dangers from trawling the sea bed.

"It's a key moment for the deep ocean," said Matthew Gianni of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, an umbrella of more than 70 associations.

Marine biologists say deep-sea bottom trawling, in which nets are scraped along the ocean floor, causes catastrophic damage to corals, sponges and micro-flora that are vital for the ecological web.

Places that were ploughed up decades ago have still to recover, said Claire Nouvian, head of a non-profit group called Bloom.

Bottom trawling also accidentally nets species such as the regalec which have no commercial value.

France and Spain, whose fishing industries wield political clout, are fighting attempts by the European Commission to outlaw the practice.

A key vote takes place in Brussels on October 3.

EU countries account for about 60 percent of global catch for deep- , the coalition said on its website, citing figures for 2001.

Explore further: Conserving biodiversity for the future health of the planet

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Trawling is changing seafloor habitats: study

Sep 05, 2012

Bottom trawling is dramatically altering the ocean floor and harming habitats, similar to the way that farming has permanently changed the landscape, a study said on Wednesday.

Hong Kong bans trawling to save fish stocks

May 20, 2011

Hong Kong has banned trawl fishing in its waters, a decision welcomed by conservationists Friday as a crucial move to save fish stocks and revive the city's depleted marine environment.

Eleven-foot 'giant herring' found off Sweden

May 12, 2010

A "giant herring" measuring 3.5 metres (11.4 feet) has been discovered off Sweden's western coast -- the first such fish found in the Scandinavian country in more than 130 years, a maritime museum said Tuesday.

Bottom trawling impacts, clearly visible from space

Feb 15, 2008

Bottom trawling, an industrial fishing method that drags large, heavy nets across the seafloor stirs up huge, billowing plumes of sediment on shallow seafloors that can be seen from space.

Recommended for you

Japan lawmakers demand continued whaling

5 minutes ago

Japanese lawmakers on Wednesday demanded the government redesign its "research" whaling programme to circumvent an international court ruling that described the programme as a commercial hunt dressed up as ...

EU must take urgent action on invasive species

3 hours ago

The EU must take urgent action to halt the spread of invasive species that are threatening native plants and animals across Europe, according to a scientist from Queen's University Belfast.

Ranchers benefit from long-term grazing data

5 hours ago

Scientists studying changes in the Earth's surface rely on 40 years of Landsat satellite imaging, but South Dakota ranchers making decisions about grazing their livestock can benefit from 70 years of data ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Revealing camouflaged bacteria

A research team at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel has discovered an protein family that plays a central role in the fight against the bacterial pathogen Salmonella within the cells. The so cal ...

EU must take urgent action on invasive species

The EU must take urgent action to halt the spread of invasive species that are threatening native plants and animals across Europe, according to a scientist from Queen's University Belfast.

Progress in the fight against quantum dissipation

(Phys.org) —Scientists at Yale have confirmed a 50-year-old, previously untested theoretical prediction in physics and improved the energy storage time of a quantum switch by several orders of magnitude. ...