On 20 May the European Commission announced a further proposal aimed at halting the decline of sea bass in the Celtic Sea, Irish Sea, Channel and North Sea.
The Commission’s proposal is the third of a series of proposals in relation to this stock this year. This proposal is addressed to the Council of Fisheries Ministers and will enable the ministers to decide about catch limits for particular fishing gears in order to protect sea bass. The Commission's proposal would also allow extending a prohibition, currently applied to Irish fishing vessels, to all Member State vessels in waters adjacent to Ireland.
Sea bass is a high value, iconic species for recreational and commercial fishermen; we need to act to address the declining state of the stock, to protect jobs and livelihoods. If the EU does not act decisively now, the risk for greater and long term losses to this valuable fish stock and to coastal communities will be increasing.
Scientific advice has clearly identified the need to drastically reduce catches of this species, following an increase in the fishing pressure and a reduction in reproduction.
Previously the Commission has implemented a short term ban on pelagic trawling until 30th April, preventing the targeting of this species during spawning aggregations. A previous amendment of the fishing opportunities regulation has already introduced a 3 fish bag limit for recreational fishermen.
This latest proposal envisages a maximum catch per month by gear type, limiting the targeting of the vulnerable stock but allowing for incidental catches.
Ireland in the 1990’s introduced a ban on commercial fishing for its flag vessels. This prohibition is proposed to be extended to other Member States in the Waters adjacent to Ireland outside of the UK 12 nm limit by the latest.
It is now up to the Council of Ministers to decide on the Commission's proposal.
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