Commissioner Damanaki presents Commission Communication on Fishing Opportunities for 2013 at the EU Council
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of 16 July takes place in Brussels, under the Presidency of Cypriot Minister for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Mr. Sofoclis Aletraris.
Read more and comment on Commissioner Damanaki's blog: "Sustainability pays off"
At the meeting, Commissioner Damanaki presented to ministers the Commission's Communication on Fishing Opportunities for 2013. Commissioner Damanaki stated: "Looking at the current state of the stocks, there is very good news. We are achieving some success in eliminating overfishing. Better still, we have stocks that are moving to MSY. We had 13 EU MSY stocks last year and now we have 19 MSY stocks for the EU". She underlined that "We have seen the proof this year that moving to MSY as soon as possible can bring short term-benefits, namely 135 million € worth of catches increase. Sustainability pays off, but further efforts are still needed: let's continue this path. In our proposal this year, we are going to follow scientific advice to reach MSY as soon as possible."
As regards available scientific advice, Commissioner Damanaki welcomed the new approach followed by the advisory scientific body ICES concerning data-limited stocks, which tries to make up for the data gap by taking whatever information is available from various sources: "we can witness a great improvement in scientific advice: the new methodology is based on a sound approach. I believe that we should accept it as a package and avoid cherry picking the bits of advice that are positive for some stocks and national interests and selectively ignoring the advice that recommends catches cuts."
In its annual consultation document, the Commission asks for the views of Member States and stakeholders on the setting of Total Allowable Catches (TACs), quotas and fishing effort (days-at-sea) for the following year. The Commission's approach for 2013 is that for stocks covered by the long-term management plans, TACs and effort levels should be fixed according to the plans in force. For other fish stocks, not covered by the plans, the TACs should be based on scientific advice, with a goal to phase out overfishing by 2015 - or earlier, wherever possible. Where no advice exists, the precautionary principle should be applied.
The Commission notes that the state of fish stocks in has improved over the last years. In the northeast Atlantic and nearby seas, overfished stocks fell from 32 out of 34 stocks in 2005 to 18 out of 38 stocks in 2012, i.e. from 94% to 47%. In the Mediterranean, sufficient data exists for 63% of stocks. Out of these, 80% are overfished. Equally, the science base for assessing fish stocks is improving. Whereas in 2009 57 stocks subject to TACs in the northeast Atlantic were without scientific advice, a drastic improvement in 2012 to possibly as little as 10 to 12 stocks is expected. The Commission thereby reaffirms that it is committed to propose fishing levels based on scientific analysis and with the deadline of 2015 for phasing out overfishing, as spelled out in the proposal for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
Ireland has requested a discussion on mackerel under "Any other business".