Deep-sea fish stocks: agreement on catch limitations over 2017 and 2018
Maria Daniela Lenzu
On 14 November 2016 the Council unanimously agreed on the total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for deep-sea stocks in the EU and international waters in the North-East Atlantic for 2017 and 2018. The fish stocks concerned are: deep-sea sharks (unavoidable by-catch only), black scabbardfish, roundnose grenadier, alfonsino, red seabream and greater forkbeard.
In view of the vulnerability of deep-sea species and in order to prevent their over-exploitation, the Council decided to reduce the TACs for the vast majority of stocks, based on the precautionary approach. In addition, it was possible to set one TAC based on the management approach for maximum sustainable yield (roundnose grenadier in Union and international waters of Vb, VI and VII).
"With our decision today we made further progress towards the sustainable management of deep-sea stocks. Over the next two years some catches will have to be reduced to make sure that stocks are able to replenish and be exploited in a sustainable manner in the longer term. This is an essential investment in the health of our seas and the future of our fishermen"Gabriela Matečná, Minister for agriculture and rural development of Slovakia and president of the Council
This item will be included, following finalisation by the legal/linguistic experts, in part "A" of the agenda for adoption by a forthcoming Council meeting. The regulation will apply as from 1 January 2017.
The proposed regulation on fishing opportunities for certain deep-sea stocks (link to Commission proposal below) sets the catch limitations for EU fishing fleets as regards the commercially most important deep-sea species in the Union and international waters of the North-East Atlantic.
Deep-sea stocks are fish stocks caught in waters beyond the main fishing grounds of continental shelves. They account for about 1% of all fish caught in the North-East Atlantic.
Fishing for deep-sea species has been regulated by the EU since 2003 through total allowable catches (TACs) per species and area, and maximum fishing effort deployable in the North-East Atlantic. The fishing opportunities for deep-sea species are decided every two years on the basis of scientific advice, in line with regulation 1380/2013 on the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Scientific advice is provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), which published its latest review of the biological status of deep-sea stocks in June 2016.
Elements of the proposal are also based on the further review undertaken by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) in July 2016.
Under the reformed CFP, fishing opportunities should also be fixed in accordance with the precautionary principle and aim at restoring and maintaining maximum sustainable yield (MSY).
Under article 43(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), it is for the Council to adopt measures on the fixing and allocation of fishing opportunities within the framework of the CFP.