Knowledge Based Bio-Economy


Monitoring deep-sea fisheries

Project acronym: DEEPFISHMAN

Title of project: Management and monitoring of deep-sea fisheries and stocks

Research area: Deep sea fisheries management

Contract No: 227390

EU contribution: €2 924 156

Start date: 01-04-2009

Duration: 36 months


Deepwater fisheries pose particular difficulties for management. Populations of target species are difficult to assess resulting in high levels of uncertainty, they are generally vulnerable and their biological sustainable levels of exploitation are estimated to be low. The fishing gears (bottom trawls) also impact negatively the seafloor andresult in damage to bottom dwellers such as cold water coral and large sponges. However, the impact of fishing on the deepwater ecosystem in general is poorly quantified since deep-water fisheries pose particular difficulties for monitoring and management. The specific life history and dynamic characteristics of target species make them difficult to assess. Hence, the primary objective of this project is to identify and develop new and more effective monitoring and assessment methods, as well as reference points, control rules and a management framework to be used in the short term. A second objective is to develop reliable long-term monitoring and control systems for future adoption providing robust guidelines for deepwater fisheries management suitable for adoption within the Common Fishery Policy (CFP). This work will be developed by examining a range of case studies selected to reflect the different types of deepwater fishery carried out in the North East Atlantic. In addition two case studies outside the North East Atlantic will be investigated in order to provide further details of the management and monitoring of deepwater fisheries elsewhere in the world. Participants will include an ICPC (International Cooperation Partner Country), while involvement of stakeholders will be key to the success of the project, since they offer a source of unique information to undertake proposed approaches. The fishing industry will be requested to contribute to the project, largely be through participation in workshops.

Expected impacts

This project should have a significant impact on the problems facing deep sea fisheries carried out by EU fleets.. For example it is wondered that, as many deep-water stocks have such low productivity, if biological sustainable levels of exploitation could support an economically viable fishery. In the Communication COM (2007) 30, the Commission reviews the measures in force covering deep sea fishing and stresses the lack of information that is required to improve the management of deep-sea fish stocks. It indicates that the problem is compounded by poor implementation of the regulations and lack of cooperation between all concerned parties and especially the responsible regional fisheries management organizations (RFMO's). Although Regulations such as (EC) 2270/2004 have set values for ‘Total Allowable Catches’ , these are again regarded as rather arbitrary on account of the lack of knowledge about the species concerned. Although sampling programmes have been initiated to remedy the lack of scientific information on deep-water stocks the current legislation (EC) 1581/2004 does not provide sufficient guidance on how to proceed. This project contributes to the provision of significant data and to the collation of information from many sources in order to produce a series of case studies covering both vulnerable and less vulnerable species. This will result in improving data for the concerned species and providing guidelines for deepwater fisheries management. This shall suit for adoption within the revised Common Fishery policy (CFP).

Expected results

This project is expected to result in a number of case studies detailing current problems with assessment or management of deep sea fisheries. On the basis of such results new methods will be developed, tested and recommended for future adoption within the EU. The socio-economic profile and projected impact of such management strategy options as applied both over a short time and in the longer-term will be reported for selected fisheries. The analysis will consider historical catch data in order to evaluate changes in biodiversity and to identify protocols for monitoring biodiversity of both vertebrates and invertebrates in the deep-water ecosystem. The project will focus on various deep-species including Orange Roughy, Blue Ling, Red Seabream Black Scabbardfish, Redfish, Greenland Halibut and Namibian Orange Roughy. A review of the historical development of the fisheries and a describiption of the main characteristics of the fleets currently involved will be carried out. Reviews of the biology, ecological and other biological aspects, including data collected from stock assessment surveys will be extended to cover aspects of biodiversity, Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) and socio-economic data. Information currently available for management and monitoring purposes will be used to identifying strengths and weaknesses as well as existing data/information not fully used at present. Collated fisheries data will include all aspects of by-catch data, including other commercial and non-commercial fish species, corals, sponges and other benthos. The project will also report on current and historical management and monitoring procedures/methods including assessments, biological reference points, harvest control rules, measures to protect and conserve biodiversity such as Marine Protected Areas and status of stocks. In general it will identify possible improvements in the current management and monitoring framework that could be made by making better use of data currently available. All information and data (fisheries, biological, biodiversity and socio-economic etc) collated in case studies will be stored in dedicated DEEPFISHMAN databases.

Website of project:


Coordinator: Pascal Lorance,

Organisation: French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea, France,


Instituto Nacional De Recursos Biologicos, Portugal,

Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Namibia

Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Greece,

Haskoli Islands, Iceland,

Havforskningsinstituttet, Norway,

Fundacion Azti, Spain,

Instituto Espanol de Oceanografia, Spain,

University of Iceland, Iceland,

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Agricultural Science, DEFRA, United Kingdom,

Marine Institute, Ireland,

Imperial College , United Kingdom,

University of Portsmouth Higher Education Corporation, United Kingdom,