Report | August 31, 2015

Towards a new regulation establishing specific conditions to fishing for deepsea stocks in the North-East Atlantic

Regulation (EC) 2347/2002, the ‘deep-sea access regime’, has failed to ensure the sustainable management of deep-sea fisheries and ecosystems in the North-East Atlantic Ocean. Many deep-sea species captured in the region are not covered by the regulation and therefore remain unmanaged, while only three of 24 managed species have one or more stocks considered to be in good condition. The regime also leaves vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) such as deep-sea corals and sponge beds unprotected from fishing impacts. In this respect, it is badly outdated  and fails to reflect international commitments made by the EU through United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolutions 61/105 and 64/72, which called upon flag states to conserve and manage VMEs.

There is a clear need for a revised management framework for deep-sea fisheries in the North-East Atlantic. The Commission’s proposal provides a strong foundation for this framework; the position of the European Parliament, which was adopted by an 82% majority, further adds to and strengthens many of the measures in the proposal. Now, the legislative process depends on timely action by the Council, particularly given the approaching European Parliamentary elections in May.