Fisheries in Europe are further progressing to sustainability in the North and West of the European Union. More fish can be harvested, thereby contributing to improved revenues for our fishermen and their communities. However, in the Mediterranean Sea, serious problems of overfishing continue to persist. These are the key messages that Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, passes in this year's report on the state of fish stocks and the preparation for setting next years' fish quotas.
Commissioner Vella stated: "The visible success in northern fisheries proves that sustainable fisheries management is possible. Together with the fishermen we now need to consolidate the positive results and achieve the goals of the new Common Fisheries Policy. Our efforts in the Mediterranean need to be stepped up.. We need to develop Union management plans and more effective regional plans. But only when we address the situation in our Member States, will we gain the necessary credibility to start discussing with our partners in the Mediterranean.”
The document is now open to the views of stakeholders via an online public consultation. The Commission will make its proposals for the 2016 fishing opportunities during the autumn.
In its annual reporting on the state of the resources, the Commission highlights two different situations:
- There is good news in the Northeast Atlantic area, the North Sea and the Baltic Seas where more than 50 % of fisheries (32 out of 62 MSY-assessed stocks) were at sustainable levels in 2014, compared to only 14 % in 2009. They include many of the commercially important stocks.
- The fish stocks in the Mediterranean show a dismal picture: 93% of the assessed stocks are not sustainably fished. The situation is similar for stocks fished by fishermen from the EU only, and stocks shared with fishermen of third countries. The Black Sea is in a comparable situation, with 86 % of the assessed stocks being overfished.
The Commission confirms its commitment to bring all fisheries as soon as possible to levels that correspond to maximum sustainable yields (MSY). This core objective of the new Common Fisheries Policy will contribute to reaching good environmental status in our seas by 2020 at the latest.
In its annual consultation paper, the European Commission sets out its views and intentions for setting the annual fish quotas – the levels of Total Allowable Catches (TACs), quotas and fishing effort - for 2016 and asks for the views of Member States, the fishing industry and non-governmental organisations in regional Advisory Councils, as well as interested citizens and organisations via an online public consultation.
In the autumn, the Commission will then table its proposals for fishing opportunities for 2016 in the Union waters of the Atlantic, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
On the basis of the latest scientific advice, the Commission intends to table proposals for fish quotas in the Northeast Atlantic and the North and Baltic Seas in line with the MSY objective. The Commission's proposals will include the upward adjustments to the fishing opportunities resulting from the introduction of the obligation to land all catches in demersal fisheries in the Atlantic and North Sea from 2016.
The Commission's ultimate objective is to achieve sustainable fishing in line with the objectives of the new Common Fisheries Policy.
The Commission bases its proposals on the best available biological advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) and other independent bodies.
For further information
Questions and Answers about Fishing Opportunities in the EU for 2016: MEMO/15/5083
The Communication can be read at: http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/cfp/fishing_rules/tacs/index_en.htm