Spain, Portugal, France and Poland turn their backs on fisheries management and support depleting deep-sea fish stocks

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Many species of deep-sea fish have a very long life span and very low levels of reproductive activity, making them especially vulnerable to commercial exploitation.


November 14, 2006
Madrid
Contact:
Marta Madina ( mmadina@oceana.org )




According to the international organisation for marine research and conservation, Oceana, once again a group of European countries, led by Spain, France, Portugal and Poland are attempting to destroy any initiative taken to stop the deterioration of fish species and marine ecosystems.

These governments have continually ignored the warnings given by the scientific community regarding the depleted conditions of fish stocks and have decided to sabotage any initiative taken to improve fisheries management. They reject the proposals made to avoid the collapse of these species and request quotas that put the future of fisheries at risk, especially deep-sea fish species.

Many of the species of fish found at great depths have a very long life span (some can live more than 80 or 100 years) but also have very limited reproductive levels, making them especially vulnerable to commercial exploitation. For years, the scientific community has warned about the dangerous situation faced by many fish stocks and have continually requested a decrease in catches, or even the closing of certain fisheries for highly threatened species such as orange roughy and deep-sea sharks.

The European Commission has attempted to comply with the advice given by ICES, such as the decrease in catches of the roundnose grenadier, the blue ling or the cutlass fish as well as maintaining fisheries pressure for seabream, the splendid alfonsino or forkbeards, but they have not heeded the requests to close fisheries for orange roughy, the tusk or the deep-sea sharks.

It is incomprehensible that despite glaring evidence of the collapse of fish stocks and the continuous warnings issued by the international scientific community, governments of the European Union have not only not accepted the proposals made by the Commission (reducing catches of many species by 33%), but they have decided to overtly ignore the scientific data and base fisheries management on the depletion of stocks once again, requesting fishing quotas that exceed the biological possibilities of the species,” declared Ricardo Aguilar, Director of Research and Projects for Oceana Europe.

One of the repeated complaints concerns the lack of information and reliable data regarding the state of the stocks of these species and the volume of catches. Each year, it is proven that illegal catches are not being registered. Furthermore, during the last few years, the fishing fleets have not been able to catch the total of the quotas assigned to them because there is literally not enough fish in the sea. In 2005, only 60% of the fishing volume approved by the European governments was captured. In spite of this, Spain, Portugal, France and Poland are not going to make any changes to their disastrous fisheries policies and will demand the maintenance of their quotas.