Aquaculture for all

2012: European Commission Fishing Plan


EUROPEAN UNION - The European Commission (EC) has published a report on the progress achieved in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) over the last few years and highlights suggestions for the EU fishing industy in 2012.

The report sets out how the EC is intending to act upon scientific advice it receives, about the state of the fish stocks, when proposing catch limits and quotas for 2012.

The latest figures show that fish stocks in EU waters are improving slightly, but progress is still slow. However, the quality of fish stock data is lacking due to inadequate reporting by member states. The Commission will therefore be using a new method for setting fishing limits, whereby, states that do not provide sufficient data will have levels cut.

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner, Maria Damanaki, explains the method stating, "for fish stocks where scientific evidence exists, the Commission's proposals will follow this closely. When insufficient scientific data is available, the Commission will propose to systematically reduce catches. This approach would phase out overfishing and encourage better data collection and reporting by Member States".

In terms of overfishing, Ms Damanaki said, "To phase out overfishing we must manage fish stocks so they can rebuild and provide the highest long-term average catches that the sea can provide. This will not only improve the state of Europe's fish stocks and lower the impact of fishing on the environment. It will also improve the economic profitability of Europe's catching sector".

This way of fishing, based on "Maximum Sustainable Yield", will bring significant benefits and will mean a change from fishing intensively on scarce resources to fishing lightly on larger stocks. The same or larger quantities will be caught, but with lower impact on the environment and less discards. This means less damage to sea bottoms, less by-catches of vulnerable organisms, such as porpoises, dolphins and other marine mammals and less fuel used – because it takes less fishing time to catch a tonne of fish from an abundant stock than from a scarce one; this will in turn contribute to reducing carbon emissions and the fuel expenditure of fishing vessels.

New form of scientific advice

In 2010 the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), which provides scientific advice to the Commission, developed a new form of advice concerning Total Allowable Catches (TAC) levels which will lead to fishing based on Maximum Sustainable Yield by 2015. The Commission welcomes this new advice and intends to base its TAC proposals on it where adequate data exist.

European citizens, the European Parliament, Member States, Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) and the Advisory Committee for Fisheries and Aquaculture (ACFA) are now invited to comment on and discuss the working method set out in the Communication through the Commission's website.

The consultation is open until 1 September 2011. The plans will equally be discussed with ministers at the 28 June Fisheries Council.

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