Brussels, 18 July 2007
After close examination of the latest scientific advice and of the submissions made by Member States, the Bay of Biscay anchovy fishery which is currently closed until the end of the year will not be reopened. The advice, recently delivered by the Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STECF), was that "management measures other than complete closure of the fishery in 2007 should not be considered". STECF based its recommendations on data collected during spring surveys of the state of the stock concerned. It estimated the quantity of adults in the stock at 30,000 tonnes. This is higher than last spring's 18,640 tonnes, but still well below the level at which commercial fishing can safely resume. Given the depleted state of this stock, and the short life span of anchovy, it is paramount that each adult be given the chance to contribute to the rebuilding of the stock. Public aid is available to help cushion the impact on the fishermen concerned by this closure.
According to STECF, while there are signs that the situation of the anchovy stock has improved compared to 2006, the quantity of adults in this stock remains very low. STECF recommended therefore that the stock be given maximum protection. To this end, it further advised that management measures other than complete closure of the fishery in 2007 should not be considered. Indeed, STECF said, the fishery should remain closed in 2008 until reliable estimates of both the quantity of adults present in the stock and of the amount of young anchovies joining the stock next year become available. This would mean a closure of the fishery until at least July 2008. STECF stresses that any sustainable recovery of the stock will be entirely dependent on good recruitment (young fish joining the stock), which cannot be predicted at present.
There is no doubt that, in the short term, the measures needed to ensure the long-term future of this fishery, will impose important constraints on the fleets concerned. However, in the case of a short-lived species such as anchovy, the room for manoeuvre is very limited without running the risk of stock collapse whose socio-economic cost can hardly be contemplated. The Commission will therefore be working with the Member States concerned to use all existing possibilities under the new European Fisheries Fund (EFF) for granting short-term or long-term aid to the fleets affected by the continued closure.
Last December, the Council of Fisheries Ministers agreed to a zero TAC for
anchovy for 2007, to be reviewed by the Commission following a spring scientific
survey to assess the state of the stock (IP/06/1890).
For the last two years, low levels of recruitment have led to the fishery being
closed on scientific advice early in the season in order to protect the severely
depleted stock. For comparison, the overall quota for 2005 was 30,000 tonnes, or
roughly equivalent to the total current anchovy population of the Bay of Biscay
according to the estimates provided to the Commission by STECF.