Brussels, 15 December 2009.
Fisheries Council gives further fillip to environmental, social and economic sustainability
At their last Council meeting of 2009, Europe's fisheries ministers reached political agreement on the Commission's proposal for fishing opportunities for 2010. With this key building block in place, the European Union can continue pursuing its environmental, economic and social sustainability agenda for the benefit of its fishing and maritime industries, citizens and marine environment.
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Joe Borg, expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the meeting: "The agreement we have reached here today is indicative of what Europe can achieve when we cooperate together in good faith and work as a team – even on the most complex issues. I am confident that the strong spirit of cooperation we have built over the past years will continue as my successor takes up her duties next year. I wish all concerned the very best in their future endeavours to keep fisheries and maritime issues firmly on the path to a sustainable and profitable future."
Although many stocks remain badly overfished, Commissioner Borg was able to relay some positive scientific advice to Council – namely that a small but increasing number of stocks are now being fished at MSY (maximum sustainable yield) levels.
As in past years, in proposing changes in the TACs (total allowable catches) for the various stocks concerned the Commission drew on the same objective working method, based on scientific advice. It also consulted widely with Member States and the industry and did its utmost to lessen the short-term burden for the catching sectors.
As is naturally the case with broad negotiations of this nature, the Commission's initial proposal was modified to accommodate some concerns expressed by Member States. This year's proposal does not yet include final figures for stocks managed jointly with Norway or the Faroe Islands, because the parties have not yet reached agreement thereon. The provisional figures proposed by the Commission for these stocks should allow for fishing activities to continue into January, thereby giving the Commission time to conclude negotiations with Norway and to have the final figures transposed speedily thereafter. The Commission is confident that negotiations can resume in early 2010 and reach a balanced agreement acceptable to the EU and Norway.
In line with the EU's recently adopted shark action plan, Council maintained a zero TAC for porbeagle and authorised a limited by-catch TAC for spurdog of 10% to avoid discards, with a commitment to zero catches for 2011.
The promising signs from recent anchovy surveys enabled Council to allow for a fishery of 7 000 tonnes, starting from January 2010, on the understanding that this figure will change to reflect the outcome of scientific advice in the spring. This fishery will be closely monitored accordingly.
See also the table of TACs and Quotas 2010: