A report released by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), says that many fish species, including some that are new to science, are being driven to extinction by deep-sea trawling. The report warns that up to 15% of the deep-sea fish population and the ecosystems that sustain them are at the mercy of deep-sea trawlers that fish in international waters, which are not covered by any legally binding agreements to preserve fish species.

Deep-sea trawling is destructive to the ocean surface, since it involves towing a heavy fishing gear over the ocean bed at several knots, which results in damage to the sessile organisms at the bottom and turns over large rocks or boulders, disturbing the bottom sediments. Capture of unintended fish species, is another big problem in deep-sea trawling, since trawl nets scoop up both commercial and useless fish. Part of the catch with no commercial value is called ‘by-catch’ and they are simply thrown back in to the sea, after being killed needlessly by the trawling nets.

The ZSL report provides strong evidence on the catastrophic effects of deep-sea fishing on deep-sea corals and sea mounts. It supplements the findings of a recent scientific analysis carried out by WWF, on the impact of trawling on fish species, which found that entire ecosystems at the ocean floor are being destroyed by fishing practices like ‘bottom trawling’ and ‘deep-sea trawling’.

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