In 2016, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a new deep-sea regulation, bringing outdated EU legislation in line with international agreements and scientific developments. To ensure that the new objectives are being achieved as foreseen, Seas At Risk and allied NGOs have written to Commissioner Vella, calling for an effective implementation of the deep sea regulation, to protect deep-sea ecosystems from the harmful impacts of deep-sea fishing. 

 logos 2017 04 21 Letter to Vella deep sea fisheries

Dear Commissioner Vella,

In January 2017, the new EU regulation  establishing specific conditions for fishing for deep-sea stocks in the northeast Atlantic entered into force. We appreciate the constructive role played by the Commission in the negotiation of this regulation. It is an important step forward for the implementation of environmental provisions of EU and international fisheries and marine law. However, the significance of this legislative achievement will ultimately be measured by how well it is implemented.

The undersigned signatories therefore urge the Commission to put into place without delay the procedures and conservation measures established under the new regulation, including the following:

  • Ensure that no authorisations or reauthorisations are issued by member states for fishing using bottom trawl gear below 800 metres of depth;
  • Review scientific advice from ICES this year regarding areas where vulnerable marine ecosystems are known or likely to occur and be in a position to establish a list of VME areas through implementing acts no later than 13 January 2018, pursuant to Article 9.6 of the regulation;
  • Ensure that member states provide the necessary information by 13 July 2017 so that the existing fishing area for bottom fisheries targeting deep-sea species is clearly defined by 13 January 2018 pursuant to Article 7.2;
  • Work with member states to ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place for monitoring, control and surveillance to ensure compliance with the prohibition on the use of bottom trawl gear below 800 metres and the area closures to protect VMEs;
  • Ensure that member states establish observer programmes as required under Article 16 and   that these programmes collect sufficient data on a timely basis to allow for the evaluation of the programmes by 1 January 2018 as required under Article 16.3;
  • Ensure that member states provide all other relevant information to the Commission as required under the regulation.

The appropriate implementation of this Regulation will also serve to give effect, within EU waters, to key provisions of the resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) committing States to protect deep-sea ecosystems from the harmful impacts of bottom fisheries.

We stand ready to work with the Commission, the European Parliament, Member States and relevant stakeholders in the implementation of this important regulation to protect the marine environment.

We would be interested in meeting with you to discuss this matter further at your convenience.

Kind regards,

signatures 2017 04 21 Letter to Vella deep sea fisheries