As more traditional fish stocks have dwindled, fishing has moved into deeper waters in a "gold rush" for new sources that has caused a rapid decline in stocks and left fisheries managers limping behind. Despite concern for the sustainability and long-term viability of deep water fisheries, there is at present no adequate monitoring, management or protection for many of these stocks. Seas At Risk promotes a precautionary approach and a ban on deep sea trawling to ensure sustainable deep sea fisheries, both within EU waters and in the international waters of the North-East Atlantic that many EU deep sea fish stocks straddle.

Revision of the EU deep sea access regime

The EU deep sea access regime regulates which kind of operators are allowed to target deep sea species and sets the conditions under which member states can issue licences for deep sea fisheries. It is currently under revision, and if the right changes are made the sustainability of EU deep sea fisheries and protection of deep sea ecosystems would be greatly improved.

Fisheries Committee report (A7-0395/2013) on the Commission proposal (voted in November 2013)
Complementary information to the Commission's Impact Assessment (SWD(2012)203 final)
Environment Committee opinion report (voted in March 2013)
Briefing of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) on the Commission's proposal
Commission proposal COM(2012) 371 for a regulation establishing specific conditions to fishing for deep-sea stocks in EU and international waters of the North-East Atlantic
Commission Consultation document on the review of the deep sea access regime
Seas At Risk reaction to the Commission consultation on the review of the access regime for deep-sea stocks
Council regulation (2347/2002) on access requirements for deep water fisheries (28/12/2002)

EU deep sea TACs and quotas

Every other year, EU fisheries ministers set catch quota for a fraction of the deep sea species caught in the North East Atlantic. Due to lack of data on status and sustainable fishing levels of most stocks, and even on basic biological information about the species, it is very difficult to define catch limits that would result in sustainable fisheries. For most deep sea species, no catch limits are set, leaving them in practice unmanaged.

Commission Consultation document on deep sea TACs and quotas 2014
Seas at Risk response to Commission consultation on deep sea TACs and quotas 2014-2015

Deep sea fisheries management in the North East Atlantic high seas

The North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) is the competent organisation responsible for recommending fisheries management measures   for the international waters of the North East Atlantic to its Contracting Parties.

These Contracting Parties are Denmark (in respect of the Faroe Islands and Greenland), the European Union, Iceland, Norway, and the Russian Federation. The objective of NEAFC is to ensure the long-term conservation and optimum utilisation of the fishery resources in its Convention Area, providing sustainable economic, environmental and social benefits.

Seas At Risk has been an Observer at NEAFC annual meetings since it opened its doors to NGOs in 2002. The focus of Seas At Risk work at the NEAFC is the regulation of deep sea fisheries and the protection of vulnerable deep sea habitats.

For NEAFC measures on deep water fisheries

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