Member states agree EU fishing quotas for next year
(BRUSSELS) - EU fisheries ministers reached agreement Wednesday on 2017 catch limits for the main commercial fish stocks in the Atlantic, the North Sea and international fisheries in which EU vessels participate.
The agreement seeks to achieve maximum sustainable yields (MSYs) by 2017 where possible, and by 2020 at the latest, taking into account specific and fully justified socio-economic circumstances.
Ministers have allowed the number of fish stocks managed at MSY levels to increase next year to 44 and the positive trend concerning stocks within safe biological limits will be strengthened. The agreement also tackles the question of choke species in mixed fisheries by providing elements of flexibility.
"Sustainability has been the driver of today's agreement: the sustainability of our fish stocks, but also that of our fisheries sector. We have successfully reconciled different opinions to the benefit of all parties involved, and established the basis for the achievement of maximum sustainable yield", said Slovakia's Agriculture Minister Gabriela Matecna, for the EU presidency.
The Council largely confirmed the initial Commission proposal which establishes fishing opportunities in the form of yearly total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas by fish stocks in the different fishing zones.
It concerns stocks that the Union manages either autonomously or jointly with third countries, for instance with Norway in the North Sea and the Skagerrak, or through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs).
The proposal is based on the scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), which delivered its last annual advice on 30 June 2016.
The CFP regulation also introduced the landing obligation which is progressively applicable from the beginning of 2015 to 2019. This means that fish that in the past would have been discarded have to be landed. The Commission proposed to compensate with "TAC top-ups" for certain fish stocks.