EU Australia Online - News & information from the capital of Europe direct to Australian businesses

More steps on bottom-gear fishing

  • November 18th, 2006
  • Posted by EUEditor

fishing-trawlker-1-resized.jpgDelegates from the European Union are telling the United Nations General Assembly the regulatory system for fishing on the high seas needs a complete overhaull – with special focus on destructive seabed fishing.

The 25 member states of the EU have added some international clout, by unanimously backing the approach, at a co-ordinating meeting in Brussels on 9.11.06 before taking it to the current General Assembly session.

They say that Regional Fisheries management Organisations (RFMOs) are the most effective regulatory system, and can be improved.

They want that to begin with a freeze on the present footprint of bottom fishing so it is not extended to other areas; and the immediate closure of all known sealife habitats that are vulnerable to destructive fishing practices – while research continues to map such sites.

A general reform would bring in a system of pre-assessment for effects on the eco-system, before fishing could take place; a change from the present system where any activity not regulated is implicitly permitted.

New EU deep sea limits coming
That move on a global field takes place against the backdrop of anxiety in the European Union about damage to fisheries under its control.

The Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers, meeting next week (Monday 20.11.06) is to determine permitted fishing opportunities for the EU fleet in the coming year – focused on deep seas stocks under pressure.

The European Commission has advised it to order phased-in reductions of catch sizes of deep sea species, over three years, to make sure of keeping in line with scientific advice on sustainable levels.

It says that deep sea fish are vulnerable, being long-lived and slow to start reproducing, and that in some cases actual catches have been coming in at only 40% of permitted levels.

Backing for measures in North-east Atlantic
The Euroipean Commission has also commended a clamp-down on illegal fishing in by the North-east Atlantic Fisheries Commission, from May 2007.

The change will require that port states obtain approval from the flag states of vessels before they can land fish, in particular frozen cod from the Barents Sea.


Preparation Agriculture / Fisheries Council of November 2006, MEMO/06435; European Commision, Brussels, 17.11.06