The Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas has welcomed an agreement on EU fishing opportunities for 2023

The Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas has welcomed an agreement on EU fishing opportunities for 2023

  • lanas highlights the great advances in southern hake, a species of great commercial interest, with a quota of 9,953 tons for 2023, which doubles that assigned in the 2022 negotiation and which benefits 1,200 Cantabrian vessels
  • In mackerel, Spain increases the assigned quota by 20%, up to 29,439 tons, in addition, the 900 boats that catch this species leave behind the annual fine of 5,544 tons that, since 2016, was automatically deducted from the quota granted to Spain
  • In the Mediterranean, although Spain manages to halve the initial reduction in planned fishing days, “it is not a positive result, so we voted against it”
  • In the agreement with the United Kingdom, the Spanish fleet, if the data provided is confirmed, also achieves considerable improvements in northern hake, as well as monkfish and megrim
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The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, today assessed the “long and difficult fishing negotiation” closed this morning in Brussels, in which Spain has achieved a “good result” for the fleet. A “very good” result for some species, even “historic”, such as the southern hake, in the Atlantic.

Planas explained that “in complicated circumstances, Spain has managed to increase catches and managed to limit the reduction in days of fishing effort.” Very positive results have been achieved in the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean “a tough battle has been fought. Despite the drastic cuts in the initial proposal, there have been improvements”, but “it is not positive for Spain. We voted against,” said the minister.

At dawn from Monday to Tuesday the “marathon” Council of Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries of the European Union (EU) that began in Brussels last Sunday to reach an agreement on the total allowable catches (TAC) and quotas for 2023 in Community and non-EU waters, and the management of fishing effort in the Mediterranean.

In the Mediterranean, Spain has managed to improve the initial positions and revert the cut in fishing days by half, from 7% to 3.5%, as long as the fleet adopts one of these two compensations: committing to measures of improvement of selectivity, with nets that improve the passage of fingerlings or comply with a ban of 4 consecutive weeks. In addition, the ban on longlining has been eliminated, fishing for which no major reduction in fishing effort is required. While the TAC for the red shrimp goes from 7 to 5%.

Planas has explained this vote against the proposal for the Mediterranean in the existence of a “fundamental discrepancy” with the European Commission on how to achieve the maximum sustainable yield foreseen in the multiannual management plan for 2025. “The Commission wants to continue a fishing days reduction schedule, and we understand that this is not the right way, but that with the selection of gear we can achieve the same result and with less economic and social impact”, he explained. The minister recalled that by this means Spain managed to reach the maximum sustainable yield in the Atlantic fishing grounds in 2019, a year before it was mandatory”. 

In the national Atlantic fishing ground, the quota achieved in southern hake for Spanish boats in 2023 stands at 9,953 tons, “the best figure in the last 8 years and the second best of the century”, in reference to the historical figure reached in 2014, when 10,409 tons were achieved. Some 1,200 Cantabrian ships (Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country) will benefit from this increase, which almost doubles the quota assigned in the 2022 negotiation and represents an increase of 10% over the one recently revised in October.

As regards mackerel, which is also a species of great interest to Spanish boats, “the situation goes back”, with two major milestones. The 2023 quota increases by 20%, up to 29,439 tons. In addition, some 800 boats that catch this species leave behind the penalty of 5,544 tons per year that was automatically deducted from the quota assigned to Spain since 2016.

For eel, a species for which a fixed 6-month ban was proposed, which, de facto, meant the closure of the fishery, the activity of the fleet has been maintained. The management of this fishery corresponds exclusively to the autonomous communities, since it takes place in inland and continental waters. 

It is also important to maintain the quotas for sole and haddock, another of Spain’s priorities.


European Union-United Kingdom Agreement

The minister has assessed the progress made in the agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom, following the consultations carried out in recent days. The agreement procedure has not yet been formalized, so the final tonnages have not been included, although the minister has indicated that according to the information provided, everything points to “very positive results for Spanish interests.”In fact, for the first time since the Cooperation and Trade Agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom was adopted , everything indicates that this year the adoption of provisional quotas will be dispensed with. The minister also stressed that, for the first time since Brexit, “the Spanish fleet will have licenses to fish for white tuna in UK waters.”

In the absence of confirmation of the figures, in waters shared between the EU and the United Kingdom, there will be significant improvements in northern hake, which increases by more than 5%; monkfish from zone 7 (Gran Sol), which increased by 11%; megrim from zone 7 (Gran Sol), rises 14%. In sea bream and cod the quota is maintained, when a zero TAC was proposed for both fisheries. 

Having quotas for these two species is important to avoid the so-called “strangulation effect” of the fleet, since both sea bream and cod are caught by accident with the main fishery: hake, Gran Sol megrim and Gran Sol anglerfish. Accidental catches are those that must be unloaded in port and for which it is essential to have a quota.

Regarding the western horse mackerel, a species whose biological situation is delicate, the fishery has been kept open, which allows the continuity of the activity of this fleet, made up of 400 boats, which will be able to fish 3,271 tons incidentally or accidentally, a positive result, according to Planas, since the closure was initially considered.

As regards the agreement with Norway, the minister has shown his “concern and disappointment”, since the negotiation with the European Union is blocked. The minister has advanced that provisional quarterly quotas will be set in the coming days to prevent the fleet that fishes in the waters of Svalbard from having to stop its activity, for this reason Spain will have 2,000 tons of cod.

Apart from the fishing negotiations, Spain has led the initiative, along with France and Portugal, to propose the negotiation of multi-annual quotas for certain species, a proposal that has had the support of the Commission, and which, if materialized, will allow the fleet to be programmed and make longer-term forecasts and thus have more stability. 

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Spanish Fisheries Minister welcomes EU fishing opportunities for 2023

by editor time to read: 9 min