Oceana: EU Parliament votes for deep-sea fisheries management reform but falls short of prohibiting destructive fishing

Press Release Date: November 4, 2013

Location: Madrid


Oceana Web | email: webadmin@oceana.org | tel.: 202.000.0000

Oceana applauds the adoption of a broad set of measures to strengthen deep-sea fisheries management in the North-East Atlantic Ocean, today by the European Parliament Fisheries Committee. Among the adopted amendments are those within a package of political compromises that were carefully negotiated by MEP Kriton Arsenis, which would introduce:

  • a stronger scientific basis for setting levels of fishing, based on catch limits, and considering impacts on non-target species
  • environmental impact assessments, following internationally agreed standards, prior to authorising deep-sea fishing
  • the identification of areas where vulnerable marine ecosystems (e.g., deep-sea corals and sponges) are present, and the closure of these areas to bottom fishing
  • management measures to eliminate overfishing, prevent illegal fishing, and minimise by-catch  
  • more robust programmes of data collection, including higher levels of observer coverage, and sanctions in case of non-compliance

However, Oceana is disappointed that the Committee succumbed to heavy lobbying by the fishing industry and failed to support the proposed phase-out of targeted deep-sea bottom trawls and gillnets, two types of fishing gear that are particularly harmful to marine ecosystems  and capture large quantities of by-catch. They also voted in favour of exempting ten deep-sea species from the full scope of proposed management, for a period of five years.

“The package of measures approved today by the Fisheries Committee represents a potential breakthrough in European deep-sea fisheries management, which would go far beyond the weak regulation currently in place,” stated Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana in Europe. “We hope that the plenary vote of the Parliament will bring further positive measures, including a more rigorous definition of targeted deep-sea fishing, inclusion of more captured species, and an end to destructive fishing in the fragile depths of the Atlantic.”


Learn more: Myths and facts about deep-sea fisheries in the NE Atlantic

                               Oceana briefing on the proposed new deep-sea access regime