EU - On November 10, the Council of Fisheries Ministers of the European Union will meet in Brussels to decide catch limits for North-East Atlantic deep-sea fisheries in 2015 and 2016. These fisheries target a small number of managed species, of which most are considered to be overfished or are of unknown status, and also capture many other non-commercial species incidentally.
Oceana urges EU Member States to strictly adhere to the available scientific advice, and to consider impacts of deep-sea fisheries on all affected species when setting these fishing opportunities.
“With only one stock, of one out of 24 managed species, in an acceptable condition and with associated damage caused to non-commercial species, vulnerable corals and sponges, it is safe to say that EU management of deep-sea fisheries has been glaringly inadequate,” said Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe.
“This worrying situation must finally change with the commitments to sustainability under the new Common Fisheries Policy – setting catch limits in line with the science is the obvious place to start.”
To improve the sustainability of these fisheries, scientists have recommended catch reductions ranging from five per cent to 85 per cent for most managed species, and even closures of fisheries for two stocks of roundnose grenadier and red seabream.
Only in the case of greater forkbeard have scientists recommended a moderate 10 per cent increase in catches. However, Oceana considers that no such increase should be adopted, and that even greater reductions are needed for certain stocks of black scabbardfish and grenadiers, because the widespread use of bottom trawling in these fisheries causes extensive damage to deep-sea ecosystems.
For orange roughy and deep-sea sharks, the most vulnerable group of managed species, scientists have advised that fisheries should remain closed because of ongoing concerns about their depleted status. Oceana stresses the importance of maintaining these closures, as well as the need to further broaden the scope of protection of North-East Atlantic deep-sea sharks.
“By virtue of their biology, most deep-sea species and habitats simply cannot sustain heavy fishing pressure. We urge the Council not only to strictly follow scientific advice on target species, but also to consider the associated ecosystem impacts when setting the catch limits,” concluded Javier Lopez, Marine Scientist with Oceana in Europe.
“Non-target deep-sea species and ecosystems may be largely out of sight, but the Council is obliged to keep them in mind, and to guarantee these fisheries operate responsibly.”
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