The negotiations were based on the Commission's proposal for Total Allowable Catches (TAC), presented by Commissioner Karmenu Vella.
The agreement will bring 53 catch limits (TACs) to Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) levels in 2018, 9 more than in 2017. In 2009, only 5 stocks had catches set at MSY.
Commissioner Vella welcomed the outcome: "We are now more than half-way to the 2020 deadline to ensure that all stocks are fished sustainable. With today's agreement two-thirds of fish in the Atlantic and the North Sea will be subject to sustainable catch limits next year. I would like to pay particular tribute to our fishermen, who year by year undertake considerable efforts. Each year we move closer to our objective of sustainable fisheries and this will bring substantial long term reward."
As the size of some key fish stocks is increasing, so is the profitability of the fishing sector. Today's agreement on fishing opportunities is worth over €5 billion, benefiting more than 50,000 fishermen.
For the first time at EU level, it was agreed to close eel fisheries for three months during their migration period. Moreover, Member States committed to additional actions to protect the eels throughout its lifecycle and in all sea basins. These measures are crucial, both for the recovery of the stock and to safeguard the communities who depend on this fishery.
For sea bass, an improved package was agreed which should allow the stock to start recovering following years of decline. The package recognises the responsibility of commercial and recreational fishermen alike.
Sustainable fisheries are at the core of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy. It sets a legal obligation to ensure that by 2020 at the latest, all stocks are fished sustainably (MSY). Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) levels allow the fishing industry to take the highest amount of fish from the sea while keeping fish stocks healthy.
The European Union is pursuing sustainable fisheries not only in home waters, but worldwide though bilateral partnership agreements and its work in international and regional fisheries management organisations. Sustainable fisheries were also among the key topics at the EU-hosted Our Ocean conference, 5-6 October 2017 in Malta, which generated important private sector engagements to advance sustainable seafood consumption.