On the 17th and 18th of December, EU Ministers (Council) and EU Commissioner Vella will meet to discuss fishing limits in our seas. The Council is responsible for fixing total allowable catches (TACs) and allocating fishing opportunities. Decisions are taken on the basis of a proposal from the European Commission and scientific advice from the international council for the exploration of the sea [ICES]. Limits set for commercial fishing are essential to ensure we don’t take catch unsustainable levels of fish.
The proposal of the European Commission on fishing opportunities in the Atlantic and North Sea will be submitted for discussion and a decision on this needs to be reached by the Council before the new year. The Commission proposes the quota to increase (27) or remain the same (35) for 62 out of 89 stocks. For 22 stocks the quota should be reduced and for 5 stocks the Commission proposes new by-catch quotas at low level to reduce the fishing pressure.
According to Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries: “Next year will be a milestone year for European fisheries. Our collective duty is to ensure a good transition to the full landing obligation as of 1st January 2019 while continuing our progress to achieve sustainable fishing by 2020. With this proposal, the Commission puts forward concrete solutions to advance on both fronts.”
The landing obligation that will enter into force on January the 1st, is a European effort to put an end to the wasteful practice of discarding fish. It means that all catches of regulated commercial species taken on board, are to be landed and counted as the total catch. By-catch will always have to be counted against each Member States’ TACs. According to the Commission, this proposal has already deducted the amounts corresponding to the agreed exemption to the landing obligation from the advised catches.
One of our own, Christien Absil, is in Brussels during the negotiations to talk to the Dutch minister together with other NGOs. They will put forward their advice on the TACs. For now it will remain unclear what the Council will agree upon and we will have to wait until the new year.
Source: European Commission, ‘Commission proposes fishing opportunities in the Atlantic and North Sea for 2019’ (7 November 2018) Press Release.