During a Fisheries Committee debate in the European Parliament on 18th June, the European Commission presented new evidence showing that the economic dependence on deep sea fisheries in Europe is low.

During a Fisheries Committee debate in the European Parliament on 18th June, the European Commission presented new evidence showing that the economic dependence on deep sea fisheries in Europe is low.

This information contradicts exaggerated claims made by the fishing sector about the potential socioeconomic impacts of the Commission’s proposal for measures to improve the sustainability of deep-sea fisheries in the North-East Atlantic. It points to a clear imbalance between the substantial environmental impacts and the economic value of these deep sea fisheries.

Current management of these deep-sea fisheries is inadequate: many species are not covered by current regulations and the state of most of the stocks is either unknown or poor. In addition, there is little protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as cold water coral reefs, against damaging bottom-touching fishing gears.

To improve this situation, the Commission published a proposal in July 2012, including mandatory impact assessments for deep sea fisheries and a phase out of deep sea bottom trawl and gillnets. In particular, the proposed phase-out of damaging fishing gears and its potential implications for the fishing industry has been the focus of debate at various events, most recently a second parliamentary hearing on the issue on 17 June.

However, the report presented by the Commission shows that deep sea fisheries represent only 1.4 % of European catches in the North East Atlantic, while 2% of the EU vessels fishing in the region could potentially be affected by the proposed gear phase-out. Even for most of these vessels, deep sea species represent a limited share of the catches with probably only 11 vessels with more substantial deep sea catches, suggesting that the socio-economic impacts of the phase-out will be limited.

This spring, the Parliament’s Environment Committee adopted its opinion report, endorsing the Commission’s proposal and strengthening it considerably. The Fisheries Committee is expected to adopt its report after the summer break, with a view to adopting the position of the Parliament before the end of 2013. Meanwhile, the Council has not yet started to discuss the proposal, which could delay the entire co-decision process to such an extent that the regulation will not be adopted before the Parliamentary elections in 2014.

All presentations of the hearing, NGOs position papers and more information can be accessed at:

Presentations of the hearing
NGOs position papers and more information

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