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Bottom Trawling: Overview

Bottom trawling infographic diagramThe extensive use of bottom trawls and dredges for commercial fishing causes more direct and avoidable damage to the ocean floor -- including deep-sea coral and sponge communities and other unique and sensitive seafloor marine life -- than any other human activity in the world.

Bottom trawls and dredges are so destructive because they effectively clear-cut everything living on the seafloor. Trawls and dredges use large, heavy nets kept open by doors, weighing as much as several tons each, many of which drag across large areas of seafloor to catch fish that live on or near the ocean floor.

Fishermen use trawls to catch species such as shrimp, cod, haddock, flounder and rockfish. Dredges are used to catch scallops, clams and other similar species.

Midwater trawls are used to catch fish that swim away from the bottom such as pollock, hake and merluza. However, these nets can also drag on the seafloor when they are full, potentially causing harm to deep-sea ecosystems.

Oceana is working with scientists, lawyers, commercial and recreational fishermen, U.S. ocean policy managers at the regional and federal levels, the White House, U.S. Congressional members, state public officials and other interested private organizations to protect deep-sea coral communities and other valuable and vulnerable ocean environment from destructive fishing gear, including bottom trawls and dredges.