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EC Proposes North Sea, Atlantic Fishing Opportunities for 2015

29 October 2014

EU - The European Commission has proposed fishing opportunities for 2015 for the main commercial fish stocks in Atlantic waters and the North Sea.

In accordance with the objectives of the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the Commission has recommended catch limits that achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) by 2015, and comply with the new discard ban for pelagic species. Oceana views the proposal as a step in the direction of sustainability, although the marine conservation organisation regrets that these principles will only apply to a limited group of stocks.

“2015 is a key year in the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy, and clearly, the setting of fishing opportunities is central to whether the EU will achieve its management objectives under the CFP,” stated Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe.

“With its proposal, the Commission has demonstrated its willingness to fulfil the commitments of the CFP, thereby marking the path towards phasing out overfishing.”

This is the first time that EU Member States will have to make decisions about fishing opportunities while legally bound by CFP commitments to maintain harvested populations above levels which produce MSY by 2015 where possible, and by 2020 at the latest, and to implement the ban on discards, beginning with pelagic species on 1 January 2015.

Unfortunately, according to Oceana, the implementation of these measures will not be as widespread as expected, mainly due to a lack of information. Scientific advice based on MSY is only available for a limited number of stocks, of species such as hake, sole, cod, haddock and plaice.

For most stocks and species, proposed catch limits are instead based on precautionary and data-limited approaches.

Regarding the landing obligation, which only affects pelagic species such as herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and anchovy, the situation is not very different. Proposed catch limits are intended to reflect real catches, including discards, rather than only landings, but a lack of information about discards makes some of these proposed limits uncertain.

“Oceana urges the Council to reach MSY by 2015, even in those few cases where it may involve significant reductions in catches now, as it will imply higher yields for the sector in a near future,” concluded Javier Lopez, marine scientist with Oceana in Europe.

“We only ask them to be consistent with the regulations that they themselves have adopted.”

TheFishSite News Desk

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