DG MARE has turned down a request from the EAPO to increase the inter-annual flexibility from 10% to 25% in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic
The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) has turned down a request from the European Association of Fish Producers (EAPO) to increase the inter-annual flexibility from 10% to 25% in 2021.
EAPO had requested the change to allow fishing operators use quota that was underutilised this year, 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, to be carried over to next year 2021.
In a letter to the EAPO President, Pim Visser, the Director-General Charlina Vitcheva said she believed that there is enough flexibility at 10% and there was no reason to change this because of the impacts of the coronavirus.
In the letter she writes:
“You also request an increase in inter-annual flexibility to 25% in 2021, to allow fishing operators to use in 2021 the quota that remains underutilised this year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Commission’s internal analysis has shown different realities across fleet segments and Member States. While it is true that some TACs remain underutilised in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, other TACs show comparable levels of uptake, and – in certain cases – even higher levels of uptake than in 2019. Underutilisation of certain fishing opportunities may therefore have been compensated by increased fishing on other stocks. As a result, we believe that a one-size-fits all approach, as you request, is difficult to justify.
“As you are aware, banking of 10% is already possible under the current framework, and the Commission remains convinced that this will go a long way to addressing the concerns that you raise. Increased inter-annual flexibility could undermine the CFP objectives, as the case may be, of maintaining stock biomass at levels capable of producing maximum sustainable yield (MSY) or of managing stocks in line with the precautionary approach. In some cases, the excessive flexibility might also jeopardise the fast recovery of stocks to safe levels of biomass, as required by the multiannual plans.
“The Commission therefore considers that the most suitable way of taking into account a possible lower quota uptake in 2020 is for ICES to incorporate this element into their scientific models and issue scientific advice for subsequent years on that basis. This approach would ensure science-based management and sustainability for fish stocks concerned”.