The European Commission has today proposed the first multi-annual plan for stocks of demersal fish (fish that live and feed near the bottom of the sea) in the North Sea. The plan aims to ensure that stocks are fished at sustainable levels, improve the conservation of stocks, shift decision-making to the regional level, and increase the predictability of catches for fishermen in the long run.
This first comprehensive plan covers more than 70% of the EU fishing sector (worth €850 million in 2012), sets catch limits based on science, improves fisheries’ control and brings decision-making closer to the fisherman.
The Commission's proposal follows scientific advice from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STECF, a committee of experts managed by the JRC) and from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). JRC scientists led a quantitative evaluation of the North Sea Management Plan which was prepared at an STECF Expert Working Group meeting hosted by the JRC in 2015. This report was reviewed by the STECF Plenary and submitted to DG MARE in response to their request for advice.
The North Sea is one of the richest European fishing grounds, and is fished by Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden the United Kingdom, and Norway.
The multi-annual plan requires the EU to set catch limits that restore and maintain fish stocks above levels that can produce the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), the greatest amount of fish that can be fished from the sea while maintaining healthy levels of fish stocks. The plan defines ranges for the catch limits which respect these conditions, and obliges the EU to take swift action when the sustainability of any demersal North Sea fish stock is threatened.
Today’s proposal is the second multi-annual plan adopted under the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP, 2014), according to which multi-annual plans should help achieve sustainable fishing and implement landing obligations, and contain technical measures and safeguards for remedial action.
The Commission's proposal is now submitted for discussion to the European Parliament and the Council of the EU.