Deep sea quotas agreement

15 Nov 2016
The agreement reduces the TACs of most stocks including all stocks of roundnose grenadier Photo: NOAA

The agreement reduces the TACs of most stocks including all stocks of roundnose grenadier Photo: NOAA

EU fisheries ministers have agreed on the 2017 and 2018 fishing limits (or TACs) for 19 deep-sea stocks, the first time in six years they have reached a unanimous agreement on quotas.

The agreement reduces the TACs of most stocks, as is the case for most stocks of black scabbardfish, all stocks of roundnose grenadier, most red seabream and greater forkbeard.

Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: "For the first time we will have one deep-sea stock fished at MSY in 2017, which is good progress. For those stocks for which scientists are unable to give us MSY advice, our comprise recognises that we need to manage these sensitive stocks with caution, as we know little about them and as they recover very slowly.”

He added that combined with all this, the new element on sharks makes him feel confident that another important step forward has been taken for both stocks and fishermen.

Thanks to this agreement, roundnose grenadier in Northern areas will be fished at MSY in 2017. This is the only stock for which MSY advice is available.

A few other TACs are kept stable from 2016, as is the case for the red seabream in the Azores.

The agreement adds orange roughy to the list of prohibited species. In addition the Commission had proposed stronger cutbacks for some stocks, but the Council decided for more lenient reductions because of the socio-economic impact for some small-scale fleets and because some stocks are inevitably fished as bycatch in the demersal (whitefish) fishery.

For Northern red seabream, the fishing limits were reduced and can only be used to cover bycatches. This is done in order to protect the stock, which is at a historically low level and near collapse.

A new element of the agreement is that it contains three small, scientific TACs for deep-sea sharks. These are caught as unavoidable bycatch in fisheries that use selective longlines targeting black scabbardfish.

The Commission proposed to allow landing the bycatches on a trial basis, which will help improve the management framework for the black scabbard fishery on one hand and obtain data on deep-sea sharks on the other.

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