Fishermen on a purse seiner in the North Sea. (Photo: Odin Hjellestad - Copyright: FIS)
Fisheries Council seeks agreement on fishing opportunities for 2014
Monday, December 16, 2013, 22:30 (GMT + 9)
The European Commission's proposals for fixing fishing opportunities for 2014 for the Atlantic, the North Sea and the Black Sea will be discussed at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of December 2013, which will take place in Brussels on 16-17 December. Ministers will discuss these proposals with a view to reaching political agreement so that the limits can enter into force on 1 January 2014.
EU fisheries ministers will hold negotiations on the fishing opportunities for 2014 for certain fish stocks in the Atlantic and North Sea, as well as in international waters (IP/13/1005). The Commission proposal sets levels of total allowable catch (TAC) and fishing effort (where applicable) both for stocks managed exclusively by the EU, and for stocks managed with third countries such as Norway or through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations across the world's oceans. Where negotiations are still ongoing, as with Norway, provisional TACs have been proposed.
For the stocks not shared with third countries, the Commission proposes to increase or maintain the TACs for 36 stocks, and reduce them for 36 stocks, in line with the scientific advice. For stocks where data is not good enough to properly estimate their size, the Commission proposal reflects the advice from ICES to adapt the TAC up or down by a maximum of 20% in accordance with the trends observed in the stocks.
The Commission's ultimate goal, and one of the pillars of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), is to have all stocks fished at sustainable levels, the so-called Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). Whenever possible, the scientists advise how to bring the stocks to MSY levels. This year, the so-called "MSY advice" could be issued for 22 EU stocks.
In negotiations with its international partners, the Commission says it has done its utmost to reach agreements that are sustainable and respect scientific advice. International negotiations for many of the stocks concerned are still ongoing. The proposal therefore includes provisional figures for about half of the TACs at this stage. It will be completed once negotiations with third parties and organisations have taken place.
Political agreement will be also sought on a Commission proposal for a Council Regulation fixing the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks in the Black Sea for 2014.
The Commission proposes to cut the EU quota for turbot by 15%, to 74 tonnes and to keep the EU quota for sprat unchanged at 11,475 tonnes. Consistent with the EU's principles of following the best available scientific advice, the proposal takes into consideration the advice by the Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF).