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Fishing Quotas Proposed for Atlantic and North Sea

Cod Sustainability Economics +4 more

EU - The European Commission has now proposed fish quotas for 2016 for the Atlantic and the North Sea. The proposed Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quota top ups were welcomed by Oceana and Europche.

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The Commission proposes to maintain or increase the fish quotas for 35 stocks, and reduce catches for 28 stocks on the basis of the scientific advice received.

Some of the stocks facing increases include megrim in the North Sea and West of Scotland and horse mackerel in Northern Spain.

Due to a lack of improvement, stocks with cuts include Celtic Sea and English Channel cod and haddock by up to almost 30 per cent and 27 per cent respectively.

The Irish Sea sole fishery has a huge proposed cut of 100 per cent which would effectively close the fishery, said Europêche.

The Commission has also proposed a complete ban on the fishing of sea bass from 1 January to 30 June and a limitation to 1000kg per vessel per month in some areas only from 1 July.

Quota Top Ups

The EC is also proposing an increase in fishing opportunities to help fishermen in the transition to the new obligation to land all catches. This is the first time the Commission proposes so-called quota "top ups" for all the fisheries under the landing obligation as of 2016.

This extra quota aims to compensate fishermen for the extra fish they will have to land. On the basis of scientific advice to be received by mid-November the Commission will, later in the month, propose the catch increase including all the quantities that need to be landed.

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: "My objective is clear and ambitious: I want us to bring all stocks to healthy and sustainable levels as soon as possible. I am happy that for a number of fish stocks we can propose quota increases and achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield in 2016. The efforts of our fishermen paid off and we are here to support them also in making the transition to landing all fish caught. For other fish stocks however cuts need to be made so that we can protect the future of those stocks."

This proposal will now be presented by Commissioner Vella and submitted to discussion to the Ministers of the Member States at the December Fisheries Council to be applied as from 1 January 2016.

Oceana welcomed the proposal, that sets a key milestone towards ending overfishing by 2020, but said it is disappointed that the Commission failed to fully meet catch reductions advised by scientists for certain stocks.

“Despite some shortfalls, the Commission proposal is moving in the right direction - away from short-term thinking that has allowed nearly half of the European Atlantic stocks to currently be overfished,” explains Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe.

“Fisheries ministers must stop ignoring science when deciding on fishing limits in December, otherwise the Common Fisheries Policy will remain a facade. The 2020 legally binding deadline for ending overfishing is fast approaching and decisions taken this year will make or break the ultimate sustainability promise given to the environment and the fishermen.”

President of Europêche, Javier Garat commented: “Fishing opportunities for 2016 will be set against the backdrop of the most challenging phase of the discard ban, that of demersal fisheries, which will come into force in a matter of weeks. I am pleased to see that the Commission will propose quota uplift to help fishermen adapt to this radical change and we hope that this will be adequate. The Commission must guarantee the full use of this and other flexibility measures (such as deminimis for northern hake) to allow our fishermen to achieve the core objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy which aims for stocks to reach MSY levels by 2020 at the latest. It is important that the Commission does not confuse this long-term objective with a short term goal, since the sector needs time to adapt. Any significant cut in quota will affect the long term profitability of the sector. These recommendations are solely based on the long-term MSY objective. During December Council, Ministers will have the responsibility to ensure good management of stocks and maintain a viable sector."