In a letter sent ahead of the November Fisheries Council meeting, Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat are calling on EU Ministers to set quotas for deep sea species that reflect the vulnerability of these stocks given their unique life traits.

In their letter, SAR and FISH have urged ministers to follow scientific advice when setting TACs. However, they emphasise that due to the lack of full stock assessments available for deep sea species, and due to the high levels of bycatches in mixed fisheries carried out by bottom trawlers; the advice to increase quota for black scabbard and roundnose grenadiers should be treated with extra caution.

Deep sea species grow slowly, mature late and have low reproductive capacity, which makes them particularly vulnerable for overfishing. The high levels of bycatches in the deep sea bottom trawl fisheries result in broad adverse impacts on entire communities of deep sea species. Given these problems, the current management of mixed fisheries on vulnerable deep sea species by setting TACs and quotas for some, but not all, must be considered deeply inadequate.

Furthermore, recognising the impact of these fisheries on vulnerable marine ecosystems such as cold water coral reefs, a fundamental overhaul of their management is necessary. Therefore Seas At Risk and the Fish Secretariat have welcomed the latest Commission proposal on a revised access regime for deep sea fisheries, which includes an ambitious phase out of deep sea bottom trawling and gill net fishing.

The Fisheries Council meeting will take place on 28 and 29 November.

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