EU moves to cut quotas to protect deep sea fish
Europe's fisheries chief called for cuts to deep-sea fishing on Wednesday to protect exotic deepwater species, such as deep-sea sharks and orange roughy, with an emphasis that trawling be banned for them from 2010.
Deep sea fish grow and reproduce so much slower than fish that live in shallower waters and are much more vulnerable to overfishing. Some of the species include forkbeards, black scabbardfish, greater silver smelt and roundnose grenadier.
With the depletion of mainstay commercial fish such as cod and hake in recent years, they have become an attractive catch as trawlers switch from their regular fishing grounds.
In its recommendations for quota cuts, to be debated by EU fisheries ministers in November, the European Commission wants the 2009 reductions to range up to 50 percent, followed by cuts that extend up to 100 percent in 2010.
In the cases of orange roughy and deep-sea sharks, that means no fishing at all in two years' time.
"We began reducing catch levels on some of the more vulnerable stocks in 2006, with a view to reaching zero catch in four years. This gradual phase-out has given the industry time to adjust and refocus," EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg said.
France, Spain and Portugal rank among the EU countries with the most developed deep-sea fishing industries, followed by Britain and Ireland.
The EU does have rules to control deepwater fishing, but the enforcement of these rules has often been uneven.