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Brussels, 30 May 2008.
Why are TACs consistently set much higher than scientific advice or the Commission's own proposals?
While the introduction of multi-annual management plans has helped make the setting of fishing opportunities from year to year a more stable and more rational process, guided by clear scientific criteria, it has not resolved the problem of TACs being generally set too high. In the case of stocks which are not managed in accordance with long-term plans, this is often because of short-term political pressures. In the case of those stocks which do fall under long-term plans, however, it is partly because the rule of limiting inter-annual variations in TACs to 15% increase or decrease has prevented the EU from acting decisively to protect stocks whose biological condition is too poor for them to respond to more gradual measures. This rule also means that when stocks do show real recovery, the industry is not able to take full advantage of this increase in available resources.
How will TACs be set in future?
TACs will now be proposed by the Commission in line with the following
Why does the existing days-at-sea system for managing fishing effort not work?
The days-at-sea system was intended to reduce fishing effort in line with the reductions in TACs, in order to reduce discarding and remove the opportunity for illegal fishing. As such, it was an essential part of a number of long-term plans, including those for cod. However, as the cod plans have illustrated, the large number of complex derogations introduced at the request of Member States have effectively neutralised the impact of the scheme, and made it almost unworkable. Thus for example, between 2004 and 2006, fishing effort on cod decreased by only 12 % in the Kattegat, 9 % in the Skagerrak, the North Sea and the Eastern Channel, 24 % to the West of Scotland, and 17 % in the Irish Sea. These reductions are far smaller than those which would have been required to bring about a significant reduction in fishing mortality.
The current system allows offsetting the decrease in the days at sea by complex derogations. Some of these even allocate fishing rights to inactive vessels, which can then be transferred to active vessels. In order to meet realistic effort reduction targets in the future, a more effective approach is required.
How will the new kilowatt-days system of effort management work?
The kilowatt-days approach would let Member States themselves decide on a balance between fleet capacity and fishing opportunities. Effort ceilings (expressed in kilowatt-days) would be set for groups of vessels or fleet segments based on recent levels of real effort deployed. These ceilings would then be managed at national level by the Member States. This would also let Member States fine-tune allocations of kW-days to encourage low-discard fishing. Reductions in effort would be proportionate to the targeted reductions in fishing mortality for each segment. This approach has already been introduced in the revision of the Cod Recovery Plan adopted by the Commission in April. It is now proposed to immediately extend this approach to cover all effort limitations set in the 2009 TACs proposal.
What is the timetable for consultation and adoption of fishing opportunities for 2009?
The Commission invites Member States and stakeholders to submit their comments on its policy statement as soon as possible, and in any case by 30 June, so that they can be taken into account when formulating proposals for 2009 fishing opportunities. The Commission itself will actively pursue technical consultations on a number of issues with both national authorities and stakeholders, in particular on the proposed revision to the effort management system.
Scientific advice concerning most demersal stocks will be available from STECF in early July, and an earlier start to discussions on fishing opportunities can then be made. Advancing the autumn round of decision-making by more than a few weeks is impossible because the advice for the large pelagic shared stocks will only be available in October. This will be needed before a full package of fishing opportunities can be negotiated.
The timetable foreseen is as follows:
See also IP/08/828
 By maximum sustainable yield (MSY), we mean the highest yield that may be taken from a fish stock without lowering its productive potential for future years. For more information, see the Commission's Communication on implementing sustainability in EU fisheries through maximum sustainable yield of 5 July 2006, IP/06/931.