Deep-sea fisheries are generally considered to be fisheries conducted for bottom dwelling species below 200 meters on the continental slope, seamounts, deep-sea ridges and plateaus and associated underwater features. There has been a long history of traditional and artisanal handline fisheries for deep-water species, but industrial deep-sea trawl fisheries only developed in the 1950s and 1960s with the advent of factory trawlers.
Firstly dominated by countries of eastern Europe and former USSR until their decline in the 1980s, deep-water bottom trawl fisheries were then developed by a number of other countries. Kept within countries’ EEZs along the continental slope and on seamounts throughout the 1980s and 1990s, many of these fisheries have progressively expanded into deeper waters and further offshore, including beyond the limit of national jurisdiction.
In just ten years, between 1992 and 2002, the percentage of fish caught in the high seas in relation to the global marine catch rose from 5% to 11%.