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EC Proposal To Reduce Catch Is Insufficient


EU - Oceana applauds the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) reduction the European Commission presented last week to regulate fishing of the EUs most important species in 2011. However, the international marine conservation organisation believes that, in some cases, this reduction is not enough to guarantee the sustainable exploitation of fisheries and calls on the Council of Fisheries Ministers to correct these deficiencies according to scientific advice.

The European Commissions proposal reduces the catch by 9.3 per cent compared to 2010. Oceana believes this reduction is insufficient and calls attention to the fact that the Commission is ignoring 35 per cent of scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). This attitude puts the state of conservation and possibilities of recovering fishery stocks at a significant risk.

Ricardo Aguilar, Research Director for Oceana in Europe states that Despite the progress made to adapt fisheries management according to the scientific advice, there are still several important deficiencies in that management that are jeopardizing the sustainable exploitation of population stocks. A priority objective of these management plans has to be taking into consideration the scientific advice in order to make this way resources exploitation and a healthy species and ecosystems status compatible."

According to Oceana, the state of conservation of some species, like cod (Gadus morhua) and herring (Clupea harengus), is especially alarming because these species are being caught in areas where fishing should be restricted. For megrim (Lepidorhombus spp.) and haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus), the Commission proposes TACs that exceed recommendations by 23 per cent and 56 per cent, respectively, in some fishing grounds.

In the case of sole (Solea solea), blue ling (Molva dypterigia) and hake (Merluccius merluccius), instead of reducing catches as per ICES recommendations, the Commission increases them. By implementing this type of short-term management, in favor of economic interests, the EU is moving away from the sustainable exploitation of its resources.

In an attempt to comply with United Nations commitments, which are legally binding, the Commission set the objective of maintaining or reconstituting fishery stocks to levels of maximum sustainable output for 2015. In the current proposal, only 15 per centof stocks for which information is available, comply with this objective. In this context, Oceana calls attention to the current overexploitation of hundreds of other species that lack any type of scientifically endorsed management measures and for which there is a lack of reliable catch data.

According to Javier Lpez, marine scientist at Oceana, The EU should implement management measures that allow overexploited fish stocks to recover. This is the only way to guarantee their conservation and ensure the medium and long-term interests of the fisheries sector.