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The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
This week, the Commission adopted a proposal on fishing opportunities in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas that aims to address the alarming levels of overexploitation of fish stocks in the region by restoring and maintaining stocks at sustainable levels.
This proposal will form the basis for Member States’ fishing opportunities for 2020, which will be set at the December Agriculture and Fisheries Council (16-17 December).
Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, describes the proposal as an “important step in the right direction” towards reversing the alarming situation for most fish stocks in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
With this proposal, the Commission is delivering on the political commitments made in the MedFish4Ever and Sofia Declarations to promote sustainable management of fish stocks, thereby ensuring social and economic viability in the region.
In the Mediterranean Sea, the proposal calls for a reduction by 2020 in the fishing of demersal stocks, including red mullet, hake, deep-water rose shrimp, Norway lobster, blue and red shrimp and giant red shrimp.
The proposal also includes measures informed by the decisions of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), including a 3-month closure period for eel, catch and fishing effort limits for small pelagics in the Adriatic, and a fishing effort limit for demersals in the Adriatic.
In the Black Sea, the Commission proposes to maintain the 2019 catch limit for sprat (11,475 tonnes), and to impose an EU quota on turbot in line with the revision of the GFCM turbot multiannual management plan, which will be decided at the GFCM annual session (4-8 November 2019).
In 2016, 78% of assessed fish stocks in the Mediterranean and Black Seas were exploited beyond their biological sustainable limits, and some were verging on depletion.
To tackle this grave situation, the Commission is promoting multilateral cooperation on fisheries management in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. Enhanced governance has been established following the adoption of the Malta "MedFish4ever" and Sofia Declarations.
The multiannual management plan for demersal stocks in the western Mediterranean, adopted in June 2019, introduced a fishing effort regime for trawlers intended to reduce their catches by up to 40% in five years.
This proposal was informed by reports of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), which are regularly published by the JRC.
The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) is the European Commission’s department with responsibility for the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which explicitly requires the Commission to take “into account available scientific, technical and economic advice” when drafting legislative proposals for the European Parliament and Council. The STECF was set up to assist the Commission in preparing legislative proposals, delegated acts or policy initiatives, and to monitor the evolution of policy and bring about an exchange of experience and good practise in the field of conservation and management of living marine resources.
Since assuming the secretariat of the STECF in 2005, the JRC provides the STECF front office. The JRC also manages EU-wide data calls on behalf of DG MARE in support to STEC. The STECF work to address scientific advice needs of the CFP is published regularly as JRC Science for Policy reports. The dedicated team of JRC scientists also participates to and frequently chairs Expert Working Groups (EWGs) of the STECF.
On request of the Commission, the STECF has been analysing information on Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries since 2008. The JRC fisheries modelling experts have a key role in the EWGs performing standardised stock assessments and the EWGs developing and testing fisheries management scenarios on these fisheries. The work is documented in more than 40 STECF reports.