European Fisheries Ministers must not repeat past mistakes for deep-sea fish quotas

The European Commission has just released its proposal on fishing opportunities for deep-sea fish stocks in 2015-2016. Fishing for deep-sea species has been regulated in the EU since 2003 and quotas for deep-sea species are decided every two years by the Council of Fisheries Ministers. But since its implementation, the regulation of deep-sea fisheries, including through the setting of catch limits, has proven insufficient to curtail the continued depletion of deep-sea fish stocks and the destruction of vulnerable and long-lived ecosystems found in the deep waters of Europe.

The last quotas for deep-sea fish stocks were set in November 2012 and included a drastic increase of fishing quotas for deep-sea species (+70%) specifically those caught by French vessels. BLOOM had highlighted the scientific fraud underlying this political decision[1]. Scientific bodies advising European institutions have also denounced the illegitimacy of treating deep-sea fish stocks as if they were properly scientifically known and have reiterated the need to apply a precautionary approach when dealing with long-lived, low productivity species such as those found in the deep ocean.

The scientific body that advises the European Commission, STECF (Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries) even warns that the current level of exploitation will not allow recovery of the biomasses of certain deep-sea fish stocks and therefore advises restricting the catch compared to past levels.

BLOOM has analysed the scientific advice and highlighted the cautionary warnings called for by scientists. BLOOM’s analysis can be read here.

« We call on European Fisheries Ministers to strictly stick to the precautionary principle when deciding on fishing quotas for deep-sea species. Only 26 stocks are currently under a quota regime while 22 other deep-sea species are unregulated. Altogether, more than 100 species are reported to be caught and discarded in bottom trawl fisheries in the Northeast Atlantic. Applying a systematic precautionary reduction for the total allowable catch of deep-sea species is the only way to allow deepwater resources to recover to healthy population levels” said Claire Nouvian, founder of BLOOM.


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