DSCC News

Ministers blatantly ignore agreement to end deep sea overfishing

10 November 2014

Source: Seas At Risk

Brussels, 10th November 2014 - The EU’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council today agreed on deep sea fisheries quotas for 2015 and 2016 that will allow for the continuation of overfishing of these particularly fragile species.  

By setting the 2015-16 quotas above those recommended by scientists for alfonsinos, red seabream, black scabbardfish and roundnose grenadier, the Council blatantly ignores its own commitments under the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to stop overfishing and follow scientific advice.

Dr Monica Verbeek, Executive Director Seas At Risk: “This is the second time that Ministers have agreed Total Allowable Catches under the new CFP, and once again they have not stuck to the rules they all agreed to last year. This is all the more disturbing because the TACs agreed now are set for 2 years and concern very vulnerable species that cannot recover quickly, if at all. This damaging decision comes at a time that Ministers also fail to finalise their negotiations on the deep sea access regime that should provide safeguards for vulnerable ecosystems and deep sea species that are unwanted bycatch – something even sustainable TACs will not provide. Today’s decisions show that despite last year’s agreements, Ministers still continue business as usual, to the doom of the deep sea.”

The new CFP requires decision makers to apply the precautionary approach to fisheries management and to achieve maximum sustainable yield exploitation rates by 2015 where possible. Scientific advice on deep sea stocks is often based on very limited data – little is known about most deep sea species. They are generally slow-growing, late-maturing and have a low reproductive capacity, which makes them particularly vulnerable to overfishing. This is why international agreements require the EU and other fishing nations to apply the precautionary approach and not allow fishing if the sustainability of the fisheries cannot be ensured.

Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat have written to European Fisheries ministers prior to the decision, urging them to follow scientific advice when agreeing on quotas and finalise work on the new deep sea access regime that is being discussed for over 2 years by the Council and the European Parliament.