Political agreement on fishing deepseas stocks for 2011-2012 reached – Fishupdate.com

Political agreement on fishing deepseas stocks for 2011-2012 reached Published:  02 December, 2010

MINISTERS on Monday  reached unanimous political agreement on fishing opportunities for certain deepsea stocks for 2011 and 2012 at the EU Fisheries Council in Brussels.

Agreement set a zero TAC dor deep sea sharks deep water sharks for 2012, the black scabbardfish (Aphanopus carbo), roundnose grenadier (Coryphaenoides rupestris), alfonsinos(Beryx spp.) and forkbeards (Phycis blennoides) but for 2011 by-catches of up to 3% of 2009 quotas are permitted.

For roundnose grenadier no directed fishery shall be conducted in ICES zone IIIa pending consultations between the EU and Norway; in zones Vb, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XII and XIV, a flexibility of 8% in each quota may be fished in other areas.

For red seabream a minimum landing size of 35 cm (total length) shall be respected. However, 15 % of the fish landed may have a minimum size of at least 30cm (total length). Furthermore, in zone IX, a maximum of 8% of each quota may be fished in EU and international waters of VI, VIIand VIII.

A flexibility of 8% in each forkbeard quota may be fished in other areas.

Uta Bellion, director of the Pew Environment Group’s European Marine Programme, said: “The Pew Environment Group regrets the Council’s decision to set quotas for deep-sea species even higher than the already flawed limits proposed by the Commission. This will give fleets from France, Spain and Portugal the opportunity to continue plundering these stocks. With this decision, the European Union is in breach of its international commitment to protect deep-sea species and ecosystems in the northeast Atlantic.”

“Pew is pleased that the Council has agreed to set the quotas for bycatch of deep-sea shark species at zero. Unfortunately, because deep-sea fishing for other species is still permitted, sharks will continue to be caught.”

“This decision contravenes a 2009 UN General Assembly resolution that commits the European Union to implement a set of management measures ’to ensure the long-term sustainability of deep-sea fish stocks and non-target species, and the rebuilding of depleted stocks’ and ‘not to authorize bottom-fishing activities until such measures have been adopted and implemented.’”

“Deep-sea fisheries are plagued with high levels of bycatch and discards, misreporting and non-reporting of catch, and unregulated fishing for many species—hardly the definition of sustainable. The Council can and should do more to protect these vulnerable marine resources.”

Oceana believes that the Total Allowable Catches (TACs) approved by the Council of Fisheries Ministers of the European Union are insufficient to ensure the sustainable exploitation of deep-water species. The regulation also ignores more than 20 vulnerable species, which will continue to be fished without any management measures.

Oceana supports the new regulation maintaining the 2010 TAC of 0 tonnes for deep sea sharks, including 4 new species, and the orange roughy. However, the organization regrets the decision not to ban incidental deep-sea shark catches in 2011, and incidental orange roughy catches in 2011 and 2012.

With respect to other species included in this regulation, Oceana is deeply concerned about the null or minimal reductions adopted, particularly in those cases where explicit scientific advice was ignored. Indeed, for species such as the black scabbard fish and the sea bream, TACs exceed scientific advice by 15% and 56%, respectively. For other species like the alfonsino, grenadier, blue ling and codling, the approved reductions between 0% and 13% are inadequate, since there is still no scientific evidence that their exploitation is sustainable.

The slow growth rate, late maturity and low fertility characteristic of these species cannot withstand high operating levels,” said Ricardo Aguilar, Director of Research for Oceana Europe. “Their management must, now more than ever, follow the precautionary approach.”

Both the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) have recommended, due to the precarious situation of most of the stocks, a significant reduction in the catches of these deep-sea species, until the evolution of the stock sizes shows a positive trend.