Commission calls for deep-sea fishing decrease

07 Oct 2014
Red sea bream. Credit: malias/CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Red sea bream. Credit: malias/CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The European Commission has proposed a decrease in deep-sea fishing in EU and international waters in the North-East Atlantic for 2015-16, in a bid to protect vulnerable species.

The Commission proposes an increase of total allowable catches (TACs) for four stocks, a decrease for nine stocks, and a status quo for five stocks, based on scientific advice. For four stocks, mainly deep-sea sharks, the proposal does not yet contain a figure, because further scientific advice will be delivered later this month.  

“Deep sea ecosystems and fish stocks are particularly vulnerable to human activities, such as fishing, and need appropriate protection. Hence sustainable management is the only way we can ensure the future of deep-sea fisheries,” said Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

“It is good news that the scientific advice allows for increases for a number of these stocks, but unfortunately the situation is bleak for most other stocks. We look forward to continue working with the Member States to improve the knowledge on these stocks, and to work towards sustainable deep-sea fisheries,” she added.

For the important stock of roundnose grenadiers West of the British Isles, scientific advice on how to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) is available. Based on this, the Commission proposes a moderate cut (-12%), which it says should allow it to be fished at sustainable levels in 2015. However, for 2016, a small increase will be possible (+2%), while for four stocks of Greater forkbeard, the Commission proposes 10% increases.

For a number of other stocks, data is limited and a precautionary approach implies significant cuts to protect the stocks. This especially applies to red seabream in the areas West of Portugal and around the Azores. The scientific advice for this area even calls for the development of a recovery plan.

Scientific advice has been supplied by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) however, available data for most deep-sea stocks are insufficient to allow scientists to full assess the stock status, either in terms of number of fish or fishing mortality.

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