EU Proposes Fishing Opportunities for Deep-Sea Fish Stocks

7 October 2016, at 1:00am

EU - The European Commission has proposed fishing opportunities for deep-sea fish stocks in the EU and international waters in the North-East Atlantic for 2017-2018.

Deep-sea fisheries account for about 1 per cent of all fish caught in the North-East Atlantic. Over the years, fishing activity and associated jobs have been declining as stocks become more and more scarce.

The new proposal presented by the Commission aims to reverse this trend. Based on the scientific advice received by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), the Commission proposed to keep the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) unchanged for 1 stock and to reduce the TACs for 10 stocks in order to prevent their over-exploitation.

Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: "Life at the bottom of the sea grows at a much slower pace, which makes deep sea fish particularly vulnerable to exploitation. We must set the biannual fishing opportunities for these stocks with the clear objective of ensuring sustainable management. For stocks to proliferate and for our industry to get back on its feet, moderate cuts are necessary for 2017-2018".

TACs for deep-sea sharks have not yet been proposed as the scientific advice is expected later this month. The Commission is also looking into the scientific advice and the underlying reported catches by the Member States on roughhead and roundnose grenadier and will make a proposal on those stocks by mid-October to Council.

Scientific data for the other deep-sea stocks is limited and precautionary cuts are proposed. This is the case for the 4 stocks of greater fork-beard, where the Commission proposes TAC cuts of 20 per cent.

Red sea-bream in the Celtic Seas, the English Channel and Bay of Biscay is seriously depleted. As red sea-bream is an unavoidable by-catch in other fisheries the proposal includes a cut of 20 per cent.

The Commission furthermore proposes to add orange roughy to the list of prohibited species.

The proposal will be discussed by Member States' fisheries ministers at the November Fisheries Council in Brussels.