Brussels - The Commission has released its proposal for bi-annual deep sea quotas for 2015 and 2016. 

While the recommendations adhere to scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) for several species, it does not envisage implementing the suggested reductions already in 2015 for red sea bream or certain round nose grenadier fisheries. Some of the deep sea stocks are in such a dire state that ICES has advised the development of recovery plans.

This is the first time that deep sea stocks will fall under the Maximum Sustainable Yield objectives of the CFP, meaning that any fishing limits set must ensure that no overfishing takes place.

Deep sea species are usually slow-growing, mature late in their lives and have a low reproductive capacity, making them particularly vulnerable to overfishing, especially in situations where scientific knowledge on the stock status is limited. Fishing for deep sea species using bottom trawls also damages vulnerable marine ecosystems and impacts many other non-targeted species.

The Commission decided to exclude stocks that are managed together with third countries such as Norway from the deep sea quota negotiations. Fish such as blue ling and greater silver smelt will therefore be included in different proposals at a later date.

European policy makers are also currently revising the legal framework for EU deep sea fisheries. The current one dates back to 2002 and not fulfil international agreements that the EU has signed up to under UN resolutions, but fails to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems from deep sea fisheries or ensure sustainable deep sea fisheries.

Fisheries ministers will meet in November to agree on the final quotas for deep sea stocks. Seas At Risk will be observing the preparations and providing recommendations beforehand to member states’ governments.

 

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