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Little Increase in Deep-Sea Fishing Opportunities 2013-2014

03 December 2012

EU - The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of November 2012 took place in Brussels on 28-29 November 2012, under the presidency of Mr Sofoklis Aletraris, Cypriot Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment. The Council discussed and decided on the Commission's proposal on fishing opportunities for certain deep-sea fish stocks in the North-East Atlantic for 2013-2014.

Commissioner Damanaki commented: "I'm glad to see that our cooperation within the Council is improving; scientific advice is well respected and we are all moving in the same direction: towards sustainability. Scientific advice is improving: this year, we had scientific advice about two deep-sea fish stocks, and we followed it; we adopted a proposal on sharks, coming from the Commission, where we kept TAC at zero level, as this is a vulnerable species and we want to ensure its sustainability. I would also like to thank the fishing industry for its cooperation and for providing us with concrete data that permitted us to have a better informed view on the state of the stocks."

Deep-sea fish are caught in waters beyond the main fishing grounds of continental shelves. They are distributed on the continental slopes or associated with seamounts. Most of these species are slow-growing and long-lived, which makes them particularly vulnerable to fishing. Although improvements can be seen, scientific data is still poor for most deep-sea stocks.

In line with the scientific advice, the Commission proposed to increase total allowable catches (TACs) for three stocks, a decrease for 13 stocks, and maintain TACs at the current level for eight stocks (including zero TACs for six stocks), compared to 2012. For 2013 the Commission proposed to increase by 77 per cent the TAC for roundnose grenadiers west of the British Isles (to 4,500 tonnes).

Fishing at these levels should permit to bring this stock to sustainable levels by 2015 (so called maximum sustainable yield, MSY). The Commission also proposed to increase by 20 per cent and five per cent the TACs for two black scabbard fish stocks in western waters (West of Scotland/Ireland). Also for these stocks the scientific advice indicates how to achieve MSY in 2015. TACs for the remaining stocks of black scabbard fish and roundnose grenadier are proposed to be cut or maintained unchanged. Taking the precautionary approach, the Commission proposed to cut by 20 per cent the red seabream and blue ling TACs, as the conservation status of these stocks is not fully assessed.

The Council also exchanged views with the Commission on the EU-Norway annual fisheries consultations for 2013. On a request from Denmark, the fixing of the TAC for Norway pout and the future management of the stock was also discussed.

TheFishSite News Desk

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