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European Parliament votes on deep sea fishing

European Commission - IP/13/1237   10/12/2013

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European Commission


Brussels, 10 December 2013

European Parliament votes on deep sea fishing

The Commission takes note of today's vote by the European Parliament on its proposal regulating fishing for deep-sea species in the North-East Atlantic.

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki said: "Now that the European Parliament has expressed its views on the proposal, I expect the Council to finally start its work on this regulation. The Commission is ready to facilitate constructive three-party discussions on this proposal. We must work together to protect the vulnerable deep-sea species and their habitats"


Deep-sea species are caught in deep waters in the Atlantic beyond the main fishing grounds on the continental shelves, in depths up to 4000 meters. Their habitats and ecosystems are largely unknown but it is a fragile environment that, once damaged, is unlikely to recover.

In the past, this fishery went on largely unregulated, and this clearly impacted negatively on the stocks concerned. In 2003, the EU started imposing limits on the amount of fish that can be taken, on the numbers of vessels authorised, and on the days they can spend at sea (i.e. fishing effort) to fish for those species.

In July 2012, the European Commission proposed new measures to regulate fishing for deep-sea species in the North-East Atlantic. The Commission proposed a reinforced licensing system and a gradual phase-out. The phase-out would mean no longer using those fishing gears that specifically target deep sea species in a less sustainable manner, namely bottom trawls and bottom-set gillnets and switching to other more sustainable gears that are used by the large majority of deep sea vessels.

Deep-sea fisheries in the North-East Atlantic are pursued in EU waters, including the outermost regions of Portugal and Spain, and in international waters governed by conservation measures adopted within the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), in which the EU participates along with the other countries fishing in the area.

Deep sea fisheries account for about 1% of fish landed from the North-East Atlantic. The catches – and related jobs - have been declining for years, due to depleted stocks.

Contacts :

Oliver Drewes (+32 2 299 24 21)

Lone Mikkelsen (+32 2 296 05 67)

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