Licence to trawl at-risk species

Source: The Sunday Times

The government has been criticised for agreeing to allow trawlers to target an endangered deep-sea fish off the west coast. The roundnose grenadier was listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in its first red list of European marine fish species, published last year.

Under an agreement made on Monday between EU member states, Ireland will be permitted to catch 199 tons of the fish. Scientists estimate that it has declined by up to 99.6% in some parts of the Atlantic and could vanish by the middle of the century. The collapse of stocks is attributed to deep-sea fishing by trawlers equipped with sophisticated technology. 

Matthew Gianni, a policy adviser to the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, said the decision was tantamount to providing a legal licence to hunt endangered species in European waters.

“The quota for this species and other deep-sea fish should have been set at zero to prevent further risk of extinction,” he said.

“Ireland should have opposed any decision to allow commercial trawling of these deep-sea fish. Irish trawlers don’t even target roundnose grenadier. They allow trawlers from France and Spain to catch these fish,” he added.

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