Scientists confirm: deepsea fisheries are in deep deep trouble

Press release - 18 October, 2005
Greenpeace today applauded the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) for its drastic but responsible call for a complete overhaul of deep-sea fisheries management in the North Atlantic. ICES is recommending that no new deep-sea fisheries are allowed until they can be shown to be sustainable, and that existing deep-sea fisheries are significantly cut back (1).

"Unfortunately, the ICES recommendations confirm what we have beensaying all along: that deep-sea fisheries are in deep, deep trouble, "said Karen Sack, Greenpeace Oceans Policy Advisor.  

Deep-sea fisheries are considered particularly vulnerable tooverfishing because they are slow growing and slow to reproduce. ICESis the oldest intergovernmental organisation coordinating and promotingmarine research in the North Atlantic, Baltic and North Sea.  Itprovides recommendations to 19 countries and is a meeting point forover 1600 marine scientists.

The European Community is responsible for more than half of all highseas bottom trawl catches worldwide, most of which occurs in the NorthAtlantic.  Bottom trawling is widely recognised as the mostdestructive fishing method currently in use.  

According to Saskia Richartz, Greenpeace EU Marine Policy Advisor, "itis time for the European Union to take responsibility for itsactions.  To start, it should support the establishment of a UNmoratorium on high seas bottom trawling so that it can put the ICESrecommendations to overhaul deep-sea fisheries management intopractice."(2)

Negotiations are currently underway at the United Nations on how toprotect sensitive deep-sea habitats from the impacts of high seasbottom trawling.  But many states, including some from theEuropean Union, are claiming that negotiators reached a 'gentleman'sagreement' last year to wait two years before taking action on thisissue.   

According to Sack, "it's unbelievable to think that thesedecision-makers may ignore urgent scientific advice because of abehind-closed-doors agreement that they made among themselves. Thereare too many examples of fisheries mismanagement already. The ICESfindings show that scientific evidence clearly supports the need forimmediate international action now to protect deep-sea life.  Thequestion is whether the policy makers will act or wait another yearwhile they allow the destruction to continue."

Other contacts: Karen Sack, Greenpeace International Oceans Policy Advisor in Washington DC, + 1 202 415 5403 (mobile);Saskia Richartz, Greenpeace EU Marine Policy Advisor in Brussels + 32 2 274 19 02 (w) or + 32 495 290 028 (mobile)

Notes: 1. The full ICES Report can be found at www.ices.dk2. Greenpeace is a member of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition which is calling for immediate action at the United Nations General Assembly for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling - the most destructive fishing method currently practiced, and biggest threat to deep-sea life. For more information, go