Reforming EU Deep-Sea Fisheries Management

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The future of vulnerable deep-sea habitats remains at stake as the European Commission prepares to release a proposal on deep-sea fishing regulations at the end of this month. The current practice has serious and widespread environmental consequences for countries fishing on the high-seas, the international community, and ocean ecosystems. And time in running out.

Now, in anticipation of the Commission's new plan, the Pew Environment Group has released a policy paper entitled, “Out of the Abyss: Transforming EU Rules to Protect the Deep Sea,” which highlights the current problems in the regulation of the EU's deep-sea fisheries in the northeast Atlantic and provides viable solutions to improve management in this region.

Leading scientific authorities have concluded that the EU's fisheries for deep-sea species in the northeast Atlantic are ‘outside safe biological limits,' which means that they could eventually face extinction. The science tells us that to prevent further depletion, deep-sea fishing should be greatly reduced or ended entirely.

With one of the largest high-seas fishing fleets in the world, the EU is uniquely positioned to dramatically reduce the impacts of deep-sea fishing on fragile marine ecosystems, some of which have taken centuries to grow.

Pew's paper suggests some key policy reforms which include:

  • Phasing out the use of destructive bottom fishing practices and gear;
  • Requiring impact assessments that are to be performed prior to deep-sea fishing;
  • Implementing area closures where significant adverse impacts on vulnerable marine ecosystems are known or are likely to occur; and
  • Reducing bycatch of deep-sea species and ending discarding.

The EU has an opportunity to take on a leadership role in deep-sea conservation and adopt robust changes to the management of its deep sea bottom fishing fleet.  Until it does so, some of the world's most unique marine life will remain under siege. We believe these species are worth saving and are confident the EU public agrees.

Learn more about Deep-Sea Fishing in the Northeast Atlantic.