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New Fisheries Measures For Deep-sea Stocks

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New Fisheries Measures For Deep-sea Stocks

New Fisheries Measures For Deep-sea Stocks
July 24
09:40 2012

The European Commission has proposed new measures to regulate fishing for deep-sea species in the North-East Atlantic. Deep sea ecosystems and the species that live in them are particularly vulnerable to human activities. The new regulation aims to ensure that deep-sea species are fished sustainably, that unwanted by-catches decrease, that the impact on fragile deep-sea habitats decreases and that there is more data on the biology of these species.

To this end the Commission proposes a reinforced licensing system and a gradual phase-out of those fishing gears that specifically target deep sea species in a less sustainable manner, namely bottom trawls and bottom-set gillnets. The Commission also envisages specific requirements for the collection of data from deep sea fishing activities. The necessary adjustments to implement these measures may benefit from financial support under EU Funds.

Deep sea stocks can be taken as by-catch in many fisheries. However, there are also fishing vessels that specifically target these species. These are the vessels that are most dependent on these resources and they will have a future only if their activity is managed to be sustainable. This implies first the need to put in place a gradual switch to fishing techniques that are more selective, with less impact on the deep sea habitats.

The Commission proposes that licenses for fishing deep sea species with bottom trawls and bottom-set gillnets be gradually phased out because it causes more harm to vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems than other fishing methods, and involves high levels of unwanted by-catches (20 to 40 per cent in weight, or more). Other commercial fisheries using bottom trawls will not be affected, because the proposed measures only concern fisheries that target deep-sea fish.

Fishermen already cooperate with scientists to know more about largely unknown deep-sea ecosystems. To find ways to test less harmful fishing gear and switch to fishing techniques and strategies that have less impact on those fragile ecosystems, the Commission has decided to finance a study on this topic, in cooperation with companies involved in deep-sea activities.

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