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Oceans and fisheries
News announcement22 October 2020Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries2 min read

Deep-sea fisheries: Commission proposes measures to conserve stocks in the North-East Atlantic

Today the Commission has proposed total allowable catches (TAC), based on scientific advice, on three deep-sea stocks for 2021 and 2022 to allow limited fisheries.

These stocks are fished exclusively in EU waters by EU member states. They are roundnose grenadier in Skagerrak and Kattegat, red seabream in the Iberian waters and black scabbardfish in the Bay of Biscay, Iberian waters and the Azores. Today’s proposal includes a general prohibition on fishing deep-sea sharks, a further restriction compared to previous years where limited bycatches were allowed under specific conditions.

Today’s proposal continues our long-running efforts for the prudent exploitation of deep-sea species in the EU waters,

said Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries.

Now is the time to put our commitment to healthy fish stocks in deep-sea waters firmly into practice. These stocks are a key component of our marine ecosystems and we must continue and further intensify our efforts to protect them.

In line with the scientific advice, decreases in fishing opportunities are planned for all of these stocks as follows: - 20% for red seabream in the Iberian waters, -25% for black scabbardfish in the Bay of Biscay, and -90% for roundnose grenadier in Skagerrak and Kattegat.

The remaining six TACs are listed as “pm”, i.e. pro memoria, pending consultations with the United Kingdom.

The Commission proposes to continue to delegate the management of black scabbardfish in the CECAF area to Portugal, the sole quota-holder. Portugal, therefore, needs to ensure that the stock is managed in line with the principles and rules of the Common Fisheries Policy, in particular the principle of sustainable exploitation of the stock.


The majority of the deep-sea species are highly vulnerable and take a long time to mature. Deep-sea fisheries account for less than 1% of all fish caught in the North-East Atlantic.

The Commission’s proposal is based on precautionary scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and takes into account the obligation for fishermen to land all catches since 1st January 2019. Frequently, there is not enough information available for a full scientific assessment of the stocks' status. Data on the structure of the stocks, age classes or frequency of young fish recruitment are often difficult to gather because of the deep-sea marine environment or decreasing fishing efforts. Scientific advice recommends applying the precautionary approach to these stocks.

The European Union has regulated fishing for deep-sea species since 2003.

More information


Publication date
22 October 2020
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries