Fisheries

AGRIFISH Council: Ministers to decide on fishing catch limits for 2018

AGRIFISH Council: Ministers to decide on fishing catch limits for 2018

AGRIFISH Council: Ministers to decide on fishing catch limits for 2018

EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella will present the Commission's proposals for fishing opportunities for 2018 for the Atlantic, North Sea and Black Sea to the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 11-12 December.

The proposal sets out how much EU fishermen may catch from the main commercial fish stocks next year (Total Allowable Catches, TAC).  TACs are proposed in line with maximum sustainable yields (MSY), where an MSY assessment is available. This enables the fishing industry to catch the highest amount of fish that also allows for keeping stocks at healthy levels, thus underpinning the continued trend towards sustainable fisheries in EU waters.

the profitability of EU fisheries is improving with an estimated EUR 1.5 billion profit for 2017, as the size of some key fish stocks is increasing thanks to sustained efforts of the sector.

The Commission proposals are made in line with the EU's Common Fisheries Policy, which aims to have all stocks fished at sustainable levels by 2020 at the latest. With the approaching deadline, the proposals call for ambition and leave no time for complacency or backtracking on previous years' progress towards sustainable fishing.

For the Atlantic and the North Sea, the Commission in November proposed quotas for 76 stocks: for 53 stocks the fishing quota is either increased or remains the same, and for 23 stocks it is reduced (press release).

Since then, the Commission has also proposed additional 'quota top-ups' for fisheries that in 2018 fall under the landing obligation, which requires fishermen to land all fish they catch. The allowed quota is thereby increased to ease the transition to the new system of 'no discards'.

Furthermore the Commission has proposed TACs for certain stocks, where the scientific advice was only received following the publication of the proposal.

Following scientific advice, the Commission has also proposed a fishing ban on eels in the Baltic Sea, the Atlantic and the North Sea, until it can be shown that the state of the stock has improved.

For the Black Sea, which concerns Bulgaria and Romania, the Commission proposal follows the agreement reached at this year's General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) Annual Session, which approved the first-ever multiannual management plan for the Black Sea. The adoption of these quotas is foreseen without discussion.

EU Fisheries Ministers are set to reach political agreement so that the catch limits can enter into force on 1 January 2018.

Commissioner Vella will also use the opportunity to brief ministers on:

·         the Our Ocean Conference hosted by the European Union in Malta on 5-6 October,

·         the stakeholder conference on the future of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, organised by the European Commission and the Estonian Presidency on 12-13 October, and

·         the way forward in implementing the landing obligation

More information:

Questions and Answers on the Commission's proposal for Atlantic and North Sea fish quotas (TACs) in 2018 (7 November 2017)