Deep water stocks at risk

Irresponsible deep-sea bottom fishing in the north Atlantic is risking the extinction of fish species and putting vulnerable eco-systems in danger, marine experts said today.

Many of the deep-sea species targeted by the trawlers or picked up as a by-product of the main catch are already depleted, in some cases endangered, and some populations have fallen to 10% or less of their historical size, a report by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean states.

The full report examining the impact of deep-sea bottom fishing worldwide is published next year but the preliminary findings on the northern Atlantic areas were released today ahead of the annual meeting of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission.

The report’s author, Alex Rogers, said: “The reality is that very little has changed on the water and most of the deep-sea fisheries on the high seas in the North Atlantic remain virtually unregulated despite the threat they pose to vulnerable areas and species.

“Many of these fisheries should be closed until better regulation and management can be put in place. Unchecked, we will see irreversible damage to the environment and the permanent loss of some species.”

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