Writing in the journal Marine Policy, the researchers from the Marine Conservation Biology Institute said this makes the practice, with rare exceptions, unsustainable.
“The deep sea is the world’s worst place to catch fish,” said lead author Elliott Norse.
He and others point to deep-water species that quickly became overfished shortly after gaining popularity with consumers — such as Chilean sea bass and orange roughy.
Those fish grow very slowly in the cool, deep waters, and some can live to be nearly 125 years old.
The scientists argue that vessels have targeted patches of the deep where these fish once thrived, quickly depleting them and destroying deep-sea coral in the process before moving on.
Such practices have become more widespread since coastal fisheries became overexploited in the 1970s.