The Presidency will organise the debate in the Council around three key points identified during the discussions on this communication in the working parties :
- The main arguments to continue with this fishing effort regime;
- The need to update and improve the current arrangements in particular as regards the limits for demersal stocks (general or linked to certain key species) and the development of tools for limitating discards;
- The timing for this update and the link of this review with the Common fisheries policy (CFP) reform process.
In November 2010, the Commission presented the communication, which has as its objective to assess the western waters fishing efforts regime of 2003 under 3 aspects:
- the implementation by member states,
- the access conditions to outermost regions in the South Atlantic, and
- the effectiveness of the specific effort rule in the Biologically Sensitive Areas ("BSA").
The western waters regime was first established in 1995 with the objective to safeguard balances that existed at the time of full integration of Spain and Portugal into the common fisheries policy, and to avoid an increase in fishing effort compared to levels observed before such integration.
This effort regime was updated in 2003. This update showed overall significant decreases in the allocation of maximum allowable effort to member states and was also characterised by simplification. This regime distinguishes itself from effort regimes under multi-annual management plans: the effort allocation is fixed and does not evolve year-by-year with management targets or quota allocations for underlying stocks.
The conclusions of the communication highlighted that while the 2003 effort regime has succeeded in creating the circumstances for the full integration of Spain and Portugal in the CFP, a better articulation with the long term objectives is needed. In addition, while the BSA contributed to an improved status of some stocks, there is a need to further improve the link between future restrictions and resource management objectives.
The Commission indicated the need to conduct the revision of the 2003 effort regime in parallel with the ongoing reform of the CFP. With this idea in mind, a roadmap will be presented in the spring of 2011 in order to highlight the priorities to be addressed in the near future.