By Lewis Smith
European ministers are being urged by conservationists to ban fishing for two threatened deep sea species.
Roundnose grenadier are classed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and blue ling are considered vulnerable but are targeted by French and Spanish fleets off Scotland, Ireland and in international waters.
The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) is calling on ministers to protect both species by halting all fishing for them.
Agreeing a zero total allowable catch (TAC) will also help protect deep sea sharks which are taken as bycatch - more than 120 tonnes of endangered deep sea sharks were caught in 2012.
“Allowing EU vessels to fish for these two species is tantamount to the Council providing a legal license to hunt endangered species in European waters,” said Matthew Gianni, policy director for DSCC.
“The ‘Total Allowable Catch’ for these species should be set at zero to prevent further risk of extinction.”
Claire Nouvian, of Bloom which campaigns against deep sea trawling, added “In late June 2016, the EU agreed to adopt a new regulation for the management of deep-sea fisheries, including a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling below 800 metres, which will enter into force in 2017.
“However, Council insisted provisions that sought to ensure the sustainable management of deepwater fish stocks were removed from the final text.
“The Council decision this year bears more weight than ever because it will show how reliable the Council is in tackling overfishing and living up to its responsibility to ensure sustainable deep-sea fisheries.”
DSCC is also calling for zero catch restrictions for orange roughy, a deep sea species which was so badly overfished that the European population crashed, should be maintained.
Picture: orange roughy, a deep sea species that has already been heavily overfished in European waters. Credit: Claire Nouvian