Trawling is a particularly destructive fishing technique in terms of discards, bycatch, and collapse of fish stocks, causing serious damage to delicate marine ecosystems. The trawling fleet is estimated to represent a total of 15,000 of the 100,000 vessels in the European fleet. In terms of destructive trawling however, the impact greatly exceeds this percentage.
European trawlers do not only operate in EU waters. A significant number of European trawlers operate around the world, fishing in both third-country territorial waters and on the high seas.
In fact, the trawling fleet continues expanding its activity. As fishing techniques become more sophisticated and traditional fishing grounds become depleted, European trawlers look for new fisheries in deeper waters. Scientists have already raised the alarm about the overexploitation of many of the target species, such as the orange roughy and the roundnose grenadier. Bottom trawling has also seriously damaged fragile ecosystems like cold-water corals.

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