Legal overfishing will continue for half of the deep sea species for another 2 years
Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 29 November 2012 reached political agreement on the proposal for a Council Regulation, fixing for 2013 and 2014 fishing opportunities for EU vessels for certain deep-sea fish stocks (the deep sea stocks fishing opportunities are agreed every two years).
WWF regrets that the Council did not follow the Commission proposal and the scientific advice for half of the deep sea stocks under consideration. Generous TACs and quotas have been agreed by the Council for the stocks like roundnose grenadier, red seabream, and alfonsinos, for which there is a lack of sound scientific evidence.
WWF is further concerned that with only two exceptions, available data on the deep-sea stocks are insufficient to allow scientists to fully assess the stock status.
The increase in TACs and quotas beyond the Commission proposal and the scientific advice comes as a surprise as the EU strongly and successfully advocated ambitious measures for the High Seas at the recent annual meeting of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), thus sending mixed signals to our citizens and partners around the globe.
Quote from Sarunas Zableckis, European Marine & Fisheries Policy Officer, WWF European Policy Office:
“Some deep sea species such as the orange roughy, have been almost fished to extinction due to mismanagement. We therefore regret that the Council is not learning from the past mistakes and agrees to disagree with scientific advice and Commission recommendations by setting the quotas for deep sea fish too high.”
However WWF commends the Council for the decision to maintain the ban on deep-water shark fisheries.
Deep-sea species are generally extremely slow growing and do not reach sexual maturity for many years. Some commercial deep-sea fish also congregate in large numbers around seamounts to feed and spawn. These factors make deep-sea fish extremely vulnerable to overfishing. Ecosystem based management would be the best way of managing these species and their environment. At present most deep-water species are likely to be over-exploited. Moreover the recent study “Sustainability of deep-sea fish species under the European Union Common Fisheries Policy” reveals that on average the European fishing fleet catches up to 3.5 times more deep sea fish than the allocated quotas. In some cases between ten and twenty-eight times more fish is caught than what is allocated by the quotas.
For further information or interview requests:
Alexandra Bennett, Communications Director,
WWF European Policy Office
Mobile: +32 477 393 400
Sarunas Zableckis, European Marine & Fisheries Policy Officer,
WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 2 740 09 36