Protecting vulnerable marine ecosystems in deep-sea waters
To protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs), such as deep-sea corals and deep-sea sponges, bottom contact fishing at depths of over 400 metres conducted by European Union (EU) vessels within EU waters will be confined to historically fished areas. This “fishing footprint" is based on bottom contact fishing locations (static and mobile gears) between 2009 and 2011.
Within this existing fishing footprint, the European Commission will list, and annually review, areas where VMEs are known or are likely to occur, which may lead to area closures (between 400 m and 800 m depth) to protect the VMEs found there.
These EU measures, along with the EU Habitats Directive, the OSPAR MPA Network, Common Fisheries Policy, and various national regulations, will contribute to achieving the objectives of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Sustainable Fisheries Resolutions , which provides the policy framework for the protection of VMEs.