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Little increase in deep-sea fishing opportunities 2013-2014

The European Commission proposed today fishing opportunities for the deep-sea fish stocks in EU and international waters of the North-East Atlantic for 2013-2014. In line with the scientific advice, the Commission proposes to increase total allowable catches (TACs) for 3 stocks, a decrease for 13 stocks, and maintain TACs at the current level for 8 stocks (including zero TACs for 6 stocks), compared to 2012.

European Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: "to preserve the deep-sea fishery, we need to follow the scientific advice, and not overexploit these vulnerable species. Still, three of the stocks seem to be on the path towards recovery and MSY levels. We have a clear management objective: a long-term sustainable use of these stocks."

For 2013 the Commission proposes to increase by 77% the TAC for roundnose grenadiers west of the British Isles (to 4,500 tonnes). Fishing at these levels should permit to bring this stock to sustainable levels by 2015 (so called maximum sustainable yield (MSY)). The Commission also proposes to increase by 20% and 5% the TACs for two black scabbard fish stocks in western waters (West of Scotland/Ireland). Also for these stocks the scientific advice indicates how to achieve MSY in 2015. TACs for the remaining stocks of black scabbard fish and roundnose grenadier are proposed to be cut or maintained unchanged. Taking the precautionary approach, the Commission proposes to cut by 20% the red seabream and blue ling TACs, as the conservation status of these stocks is not fully assessed.

With only two exceptions, available data on the deep-sea stocks are insufficient to allow scientists to fully assess the stock status, neither in terms of number of fish nor fishing mortality. Nevertheless, the scientific advice has improved, notably on the stocks that offer the largest fishing opportunities.


Fishing for deep-sea species is regulated by the European Union since 2003 in terms of total allowable catches (TACs) per species and area, and in terms of maximum fishing effort deployable in the North-East Atlantic.

Deep-sea fish are caught in waters beyond the main fishing grounds of continental shelves. They are distributed on the continental slopes or associated with seamounts. Most of these species are slow-growing and long-lived, which makes them particularly vulnerable to fishing.

Deep sea fisheries account for about 1% of fish landed from the North-East Atlantic, but some local fishing communities depend to a certain extent on deep-sea fisheries. The catches – and related jobs - have been declining for years, due to depleted stocks. 

The Commission's proposals are based on scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES).

The Commission recently proposed a new management system for deep-sea fisheries in order to ensure better protection of deep-sea stocks and their habitats.

Last update: 10/11/2014 |  Top