Oceana: Commission ignored advice

Oceana believes that the European Commission’s proposal on deep sea fishing opportunities for 2013 and 2014 is insufficient to guarantee the responsible exploitation of these species.

The organisation is urging for greater efforts be made to improve their management.

Oceana says that although the Commission proposed TACS in line with scientific advice for most stocks, in several important cases, it did not.

According to Oceana, the Commission went against recommendations by scientists to close fisheries for some stocks of roundnose grenadier, blue ling and red seabream, and rremained ambiguous about vulnerable deep sea sharks, for which the TAC in 2011 and 2012 was set at zero. New scientific advice from ICES was released last week for several of these species – kitefin shark, leafscale gulper shark, and Portuguese dogfish – and indicates that they are depleted, and should not be fished.

On the other hand, Oceana concedes that catch limits for species like black scabbardfish, orange roughy and greater forkbeard are sensible, as they are in line with scientific advice.

“Due to their biological characteristics, like low reproduction, slow growth rate and late maturity, deep sea species are highly vulnerable to overexploitation,” stated Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana Europe. “Their management must, now more than ever, follow the precautionary approach.”

The organisation believes that many improvements are still needed in the management of deep-sea species. Gaps in knowledge of stock status and exploitation rates mean that dozens of species are exploited without catch limits, that fishing gear which causes severe damage to vulnerable habitats is used, and that bycatch from some fisheries are significant and affect very sensitive species.

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