The ban on the use of deep water gill nets is set down in the 2006 TAC and quota regulation. Under this regulation, EU fishing vessels may no longer deploy gill nets, entangling nets or trammel nets at a depth of greater than 200 m in certain areas, including waters to the north, west and south west of Ireland. The regulation also requires the removal of such nets from the specified areas by 1 February 2006.
The introduction of this ban stems from a report, known as the Deepnet report, published in 2005 following extensive work by representatives of eight fisheries agencies, including Ireland's Bord Iascaigh Mhara supported by the Marine Institute. The report conservatively estimated that between 5,800 and 8,700 km. of these types of nets had been lost and abandoned and were, therefore, in effect, constantly fishing in a large area to the west of Ireland and causing considerable damage to fish stocks, especially deep water shark and monkfish.
Following publication of this important report, the findings of which alarmed me, I immediately called on the Commission to bring forward measures to deal with this problem and I am delighted that such a decisive step was taken at the recent December Council. While I understand that the current ban is regarded by the EU Commission as a short term emergency measure and that the Commission will bring forward long-term measures during the course of 2006, I will be at the forefront in pushing for the continuation of the current ban unless strong, effective alternative measures are brought forward by the Commission. The authors of the Deepnet report can be proud of their work and I congratulate them for presenting such an impressive and graphic portrayal of the situation.