Commission sets out intentions for fishing opportunities in 2013
By Anne Eckstein | Friday 08 June 2012
In a communication adopted on 8 June
(1), the European Commission defines the method and basis it will use to set fishing opportunities for 2013 (total allowable catches or TACs, quotas and fishing effort - or days at sea).
In the document, the Commission highlights that efforts over the last few years to progressively phase out overfishing are starting to bear fruit. Currently, 20 stocks within European waters are not over-exploited, compared with only five in 2009. The Commission will therefore use the same approach in its reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
The Commission specifies that for stocks covered by long-term management plans, TACs and levels of fishing effort for 2013 should be set according to the plans currently in force. During a public hearing, on 5 July, it will carry out an evaluation of management plans based on fishing effort. For other fish stocks not covered by such plans, TACs should be based on scientific advice, with the aim of progressively eliminating overfishing between now and 2015 - or earlier, if possible. In the absence of scientific advice, the precautionary principle should be used. Finally, for fisheries where TACs and other measures are the subject of an agreement with a third country, these will be applied.
The communication takes stock of the state of European fisheries. Thanks to the reduction of TACs over the last few years, it has been possible to increase certain TACs in 2012, which will provide an extra €135 million of revenue for the fisheries sector, according to the Commission. It also says that these figures show that a reform of the CFP is necessary in order to apply methods that have proved successful in the long term at EU level.
The figures are also evidence, the Commission says, that fixing TACs based on scientific advice can contribute to the rebuilding of fish stocks: fishermen are compensated with increased catches and the revenues these bring, and the effect of fishing on the environment is reduced. However, the fixing of TACs year by year cannot be the only method used to tackle overfishing. Long-term management, an integrated scientific approach and the elimination of destructive practices, such as discarding, is required.
Stocks in the North-East Atlantic, which are no longer considered over-exploited, are: anglerfish (off Portugal and the Atlantic cost of Spain); blue whiting (all areas); common sole (Skagerrak, Kattegat, Baltic Sea, Western Channel and Celtic Sea); haddock (North Sea, Rockall, West of Scotland); herring (North Sea, Celtic Sea, Bothnian Sea); horse mackerel (Western area - from Cantabrian Sea to Northern North Sea); megrims (off Portugal and the Atlantic coast of Spain); Norway lobster (Skagerrak, Kattegat, North Sea of Fladen Ground, West of Scotland, Celtic Sea and Irish Sea); plaice (North Sea); cod (Eastern Baltic Sea) and spurdog (North-East Atlantic).
Moreover, in the Atlantic, North Sea and the Baltic Sea, the number of over-exploited stocks has fallen from 32 out of 34 in 2005, to 18 out of 38 in 2012 - from 94% to 47%. In the Mediterranean, sufficient data are available for 63% of stocks, of which 80% are overfished.
There is also an improvement regarding scientific data on which the evaluation of stocks is based: in 2009, 57 stocks subject to TACs in the North-East Atlantic were not the subject of a scientific opinion, and this number could fall even further in 2012, to ten or 12 stocks. The Commission therefore encourages member states to provide the best possible quality of information.(1) COM(2012)278, available at
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