Environmentalists request zero TAC for endangered deep-sea species
2016-11-11 15:44:32   copyfrom:    hits:

Roundnose grenadier (Photo: NOAA)EUROPEAN UNIONFriday, November 11, 2016,02:40 (GMT + 9)Marine conservation experts

Roundnose grenadier. (Photo: NOAA)


Friday, November 11, 2016, 02:40 (GMT + 9)


Marine conservation experts call on the European Council of Fisheries Ministers to prohibit fishing for endangered deep-sea species when they meet in mid November to set fishing total admissible catches (TACs) and quotas.

Several environmental organisations have claimed that two of the main ‘target’ species in the deepwater trawl fishery by Spanish and French vessels fishing off Ireland and Scotland and in the international waters of the Northeast Atlantic -- roundnose grenadier and blue ling -- have been classified as endangered and vulnerable respectively by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“Allowing EU vessels to fish for these two species is tantamount to the Council providing a legal license to hunt endangered species in European waters. The ‘Total Allowable Catch’ for these species should be set at zero to prevent further risk of extinction,” warned Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) Policy Director Matthew Gianni.

The DSCC is also calling on Fisheries Ministers to maintain prohibitions on fishing for orange roughy, which is listed as vulnerable to extinction in the northeast Atlantic by IUCN, and deep-sea sharks.

In addition, NGOs highlight several additional concerns about the bycatch of highly vulnerable species in the deep-sea bottom trawl fishery in the North-East Atlantic for roundnose grenadier and blue ling off Ireland and Scotland and on the Rockall and Hatton Banks in international waters.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), which provides scientific advice to EU decision-makers, has expressed concern over the high number of species impacted in the deepwater trawl fisheries in this area. Species affected include deep-sea sharks, which have been recorded in substantial quantities as bycatch in the French deepwater trawl fishery in this area, with a catch in 2012 of over 120t of sharks classified as endangered by the IUCN.

However, there are no management measures in place to avoid or prevent the bycatch of deep-sea sharks in the trawl fishery. These concerns were outlined in detail in a letter sent by NGOs to the Commission in October.

For her part, Claire Nouvian, founder of the Paris-based NGO Bloom added “In late June 2016, the EU agreed to adopt a new regulation for the management of deep-sea fisheries, including a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling below 800 metres, which will enter into force in 2017.”

Nouvian also highlighted that Council insisted provisions that sought to ensure the sustainable management of deepwater fish stocks were removed from the final text. The Council decision this year bears more weight than ever because it will show how reliable the Council is in tackling overfishing and living up to its responsibility to ensure sustainable deep-sea fisheries.

Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat also sent a letter to all Fisheries Ministers last week urging them to agree a zero TAC for the fishery for roundnose grenadier off Ireland and Scotland. They further highlighted that the management objectives under the Common Fisheries Policy must be met by Council in setting TACs for deepwater species.

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