NEWS&ANALYSIS M A R I N E B I O LO G Y
October, when the Parliament voted to commit part of a €6.5 billion, 7-year aid package for Europe’s ﬁsheries industry to curbing overﬁshing and slowing the growth of the ﬁshing ﬂeet. But sources close to the negotiations on the trawling ban say that the environmentalists should expect to be disappointed by the upcoming vote. The sources say that opposition from the ﬁshing industry and some members of the European Parliament (MEPs) has led to a watered-down regulation that would restrict bottom trawling practices but not end them.
Both battles show that the European Union is getting more serious about reforming its ﬁsheries. According to the European Commission, 80% of Mediterranean stocks and 47% of Europe’s Atlantic stocks are overﬁshed, compared with only 21% for U.S. stocks. In 2011, the European Commission proposed an ambitious reform of its Common Fisheries Policy to curb overexploitation and make the industry more sustainable
(Science, 22 July 2011, p. 396); it was approved by the European Parliament in February of this year. The new aid package, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), puts some of those goals into practice. A group of 14 marine scientists had sent MEPs an open letter—signed by 186 Sea battle. A French campaign poster calls deep-sea trawling a other researchers online—urging them to cut down on aid that “weapon of mass destruction.” encourages overﬁshing, including with the potential to curb destructive ﬁsh- fuel subsidies and funds to build or moderning practices in Europe—and set precedents ize boats. “Instead public money should be for the global ﬁshing industry. … focussed on control of compliance with He and his colleagues are focused on a management rules, data collection, scientiﬁc 4 November vote in the Parliament’s Fish- research and stock assessments,” they wrote. eries Committee on whether to curb deepThe Parliament largely agreed. At least sea trawling and bottom gillnetting, prac- €716 million should be spent on data coltices that they say cause devastating dam- lection and €690 million on control and age to marine ecosystems. In July last year, enforcement, the Parliament decided, the European Commission, the European increases of 100% and 45% respectively Union’s executive arm, proposed phasing compared with the commission’s 2011 prothem out in the Northeast Atlantic, a land- posal. This would be offset by a decrease to mark decision that would inﬂuence ﬁshing the remaining budget for the development of debates worldwide. ﬁsheries. The Parliament must now negotiThe scientists and environmentalists ate the package with member states and the were heartened by an earlier victory, on 23 European Commission.
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Meanwhile, there has been more vocal opposition to the commission’s proposed ban on deep-sea trawling, which involves dragging heavy nets and gear along the sea ﬂoor, and bottom-set gillnets, which are placed on the seabed and retrieved after a while. These types of ﬁsheries, mostly based in France and Spain, represent only about 1% of all ﬁsh landings in the Northeast Atlantic, but some scientists say they cause a disproportionate amount of ecological havoc to ﬁsh populations and deep-water corals. The methods are not selective; 20% to 40% of the catch consists of unwanted ﬁsh. And deep-sea species often have slow reproduction rates, so collapsed populations need a long time to recover. About 300 marine scientists have signed a petition in favor of the ban, released in June by a French marine conservation nongovernmental organization called Bloom. Watling says the science accumulated in the past decades is clear about the beneﬁts of a ban. “This should be a nobrainer regulation,” he says. But the ﬁshing industry says that trawling can be made sustainable through management measures, such as setting catch limits or “freezing the footprint” of existing ﬁsheries—that is, closing off deep-sea areas that are not yet ﬁshed to future bottom trawling. And some scientists have been hesitant to support a ban as well. In a note published on its website in June, Ifremer, a governmentfunded ﬁsheries research institute that operates 26 sites in France, said that current ﬁsheries management has already “put an end to most overexploitation for deep ﬁsh.” The institute added that a ban on deep-sea trawling “does not appear necessary” because the practices have reached “at least partly sustainable levels.” The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), an organization funded by 20 member countries to provide science-based advice, has not supported a full ban either. In the end, the industry’s arguments appear to have carried the day within the Fisheries Committee, where 13 of the 25 members from across the political spectrum have ﬁercely opposed a ban—enough to derail the commission’s proposal. On 4 November, after multiple delays, the committee is finally slated to adopt a watereddown report: Instead of an actual ban, the committee is expected to agree that deepsea areas harboring vulnerable ecosystems should be mapped and closed to trawling,
CREDIT: BLOOM © TBWA/COURTESY FRED PERROT/JON WARBURTON LEE/GETTY IMAGES
BRUSSELS—Les Watling, a marine biologist at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, loves visiting seamounts and studying the ecosystems of these underwater peaks. But these days he is spending time in a different setting, equally important to marine ecosystems: the European Parliament in Brussels. Watling is one of several scientists who have campaigned alongside environmental groups to influence two important votes
Downloaded from www.sciencemag.org on May 23, 2015
Industry Lobbying Derails Trawling Ban in Europe
NEWS&ANALYSIS existing fisheries should be better monitored, and detailed ﬁshing plans and impact assessments should be required before any new areas can be opened to exploitation. The amended report would then move on to a vote in the plenary parliament, which could reinstate the ban but appears more likely to conﬁrm the committee’s vote. Bloom Director Claire Nouvian says that, although better than nothing, the outcome would be disappointing.
Even that modest victory is not secure. Member countries’ ﬁsheries ministers need to sign off on the plan, and they haven’t even started discussing the issue. “It is no secret that France, and to a lesser extent Spain, have blocked the discussion,” says a source close to the Council of Ministers. Nouvian fears the reform may slip into oblivion if it doesn’t move forward before the European Union’s Parliament and
commission are renewed in 2014. The E.U. vote is not the ﬁnal verdict on bottom trawling. Calls for a global moratorium on the practice are growing, and 2 years from now, the general assembly of the United Nations will review its 2011 resolution on oceans and sustainable ﬁsheries. Watling may have to start visiting other capitals. “There really should be no trawling in the deep sea,” he says. –TANIA RABESANDRATANA
CREDIT: © ED ALCOCK/MYOP
French Mathematician Tapped to Head Key Funding Agency In a video called A Beautiful Formula, posted guard ERC’s independence and to resist pres- contacts very easily,” says Peter Tindemans, on the Internet in 2012, French mathemati- sure from countries in southern and eastern the secretary-general of EuroScience, an cian Jean-Pierre Bourguignon spends 8 min- Europe that want a bigger slice of ERC’s pie, organization that Bourguignon co-founded utes lecturing while scribbling on a black- which is part of Europe’s long-debated, gar- in the 1990s as a counterpart to AAAS, board, ending in a declaration of love for a gantuan Horizon 2020 package. Research- Science’s publisher. short equation known as Euler’s identity, eiˇ + ers from those countries have often fared Colleagues say that Bourguignon gave 1 = 0, which is very difﬁcult to prove, unless poorly with the ERC, which awards funding IHÉS, conceived in 1958 as a European verit is approached through geometry. The solely based on excellence. “Everything that sion of the famed Institute for Advanced moral of the story, Bourguignon explained: we have achieved needs to be safeguarded,” Study in Princeton, a solid ﬁnancial foot“A change in point of view turns out to be Nowotny says. ing by raising money around the world. an extremely powerful tool in mathematics.” Bourguignon, who has also been a fel- “He is extremely dynamic, efficient and Now, Bourguignon’s own point of view is low at France’s National Center for Scien- reliable,” says Daniel Barlet, a mathematiabout to shift dramatically, giving him greater tiﬁc Research for the past 45 years, is “an un- cian at the University of Lorraine and, like power over the course of European science. French Frenchman. … He is very direct and Bourguignon, a former president of the After 19 years at the helm of the Institute of very international in his outlook; he makes French Mathematical Society. In France, Advanced Scientiﬁc Studies Bourguignon is also known (IHÉS), a private institute in for his efforts—including last the southern suburbs of Paris, year’s video—to share his fashe will move to Brussels to cination for math and its applibecome the new president of cations with a broad audience. the European Research CounTindemans says that cil (ERC), Europe’s funding Bourguignon, who declined agency for basic research. an interview request, will Bourguignon, 66, will have to maintain his distance succeed Austrian sociologist from the European ComHelga Nowotny on 1 Janumission. Nowotny worked ary. (The European Commisfrom an off ice in Vienna; sion has yet to announce the Bourguignon will be the ﬁrst appointment and declined president based at the Executo comment, but sources tive Agency, a Brussels-based close to the commission conbody that does the ERC’s dayfirmed that Bourguignon is to-day work. (The position of its choice.) He will take the ERC secretary-general, ﬁlled helm at a young agency that by Canadian-German geohas become popular among physicist Donald Dingwell European scientists for its through the end of the year, prestige and relatively easy will disappear.) “That means procedures, with a budget that the new president is drawn will balloon from just over €7 more tightly into the combillion in its first 7 years to mission’s net than is good for €13 billion for the period the ERC,” Tindemans says. 2014 to 2020. “I trust Bourguignon will be His main challenges, able to handle that—but it European science policy fol- Doing the math. The European Research Council’s budget is set to grow sharply after won’t be easy.” lowers say, will be to jealously Jean-Pierre Bourguignon takes over on 1 January. –MARTIN ENSERINK www.sciencemag.org
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