Vessels fishing in the North Sea. (Photo: Odin Hjellestad/Copyright: FIS)
European ministers agree on 2018 fishing quotas in the Atlantic and North Sea
Wednesday, December 13, 2017, 23:20 (GMT + 9)
After long negotiations, the European Union Fisheries Ministers agreed to increase fishing opportunities for 2018 in the Atlantic and the North Sea.
The decision adopted today by the Council of Ministers imply that the number of fish stocks managed at maximum sustainable yield (MSY) levels in 2018 will be increased to 53, 9 more than in 2017.
The agreement also foresees solutions for the critical state of eel and seabass stocks.
“2018 will be a crucial year in the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy objectives. With this decision we have taken a clear step towards sustainable management of our fish stocks, while making sure that the agreement benefits our fishermen and coastal communities,” pointed out Siim Kiisler, Minister for the Environment of the Republic of Estonia.
Commissioner of Fisheries and Maritime Affairs of the European Union Karmenu Vella welcomed the agreement reached and said: "We are now more than half-way to the 2020 deadline to ensure that all stocks are fished sustainable. With today's agreement two-thirds of fish in the Atlantic and the North Sea will be subject to sustainable catch limits next year."
As the size of some stocks is growing, the same is taking place with the fishing sector profitability. Today's deal on fishing opportunities is worth over EUR 5,000 million, benefitting more than 50,000 fishermen.
The Council has also determined that in view of the critical state of eel fisheries, it will be prohibited to fish for European eel of an overall length of 12 cm or more in Union waters of International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) areas, including the Baltic Sea, for a consecutive three-month period to be determined by each member state between September 1 2018 and January 31 2019. That is the time when eels are migrating and therefore are most vulnerable. Member states will have to communicate the chosen period to the Commission by June 1 2018.
The decision is complemented by a joint declaration of the European Commission and member states aiming at further protecting the stock of European eel, for instance in inland waters, through a strengthening of eel management plans during all stages of the eel lifecycle.
Concerning sea bass, the Council acknowledged the bad state of stocks in the Celtic Sea, Channel, Irish Sea and southern North Sea and their importance for many countries. It consequently decided to make additional efforts by only allowing limited fisheries with certain gears in those areas, while providing for a two months closure to protect spawning aggregations.
Recreational fishing is further restricted, with only catch-and release fishing allowed during the entire year. A lower daily bag limit for recreational fisheries is also fixed in the Bay of Biscay.