european fishing opportunities 2021

The European Commission published its proposal for fishing opportunities in the Atlantic and the North Sea for 2021

Today the European Commission published its proposal setting out catch limits for fish stocks in the Atlantic and the North Sea. Based on this proposal, EU fisheries ministers will set the final catch limits at the Council on 15-16 December, to apply as of 1 January 2021.

For 2021, the European Commission presents a proposal with 23 Total Allowable Catches (TACs). Following scientific advice, the Commission proposes for 13 stocks to decrease the fishing quota, while increasing it for horse mackerel in the Iberian waters and sole in Kattegat by 5% and 12% respectively. The fishing opportunities, or Total Allowable Catches (TACs), are quotas set for most of Europe’s commercial fish stocks in order to keep them in a healthy status or help them return to it, while guaranteeing the wellbeing of fishermen and women. Under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the EU Member States are legally bound to manage fish stocks at sustainable levels.

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Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: “Today’s proposal shows our commitment to preserving biodiversity at sea, which is the basis for our coastal communities to thrive.  Scientists are telling us to set lower catch limits for many of our stocks, and we are following this advice. Setting responsible catch limits will keep our ecosystems healthy and our fishing sector profitable, even in the face of short-term cuts. This is our guiding principle also in negotiations with our international partners.” 

Further details of the proposal

Four TACs are delegated to a Member State, and four do not follow the calendar year (e.g. anchovy, sprat) and are already set until June 2021 or await scientific advice next year.

The Commission also proposes to continue existing safeguard measures to ensure that the amount of cod in Kattegat recovers to safe levels. Following the advice received by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) that no targeted fishery should take place for this stock, the Commission will set a fishing quota for by-catches only. Fishers in the area must use selective gears that reduce or avoid cod by-catches, or electronic monitoring to prevent illegal discards.

Today’s proposal also covers the Total Allowable Catches that will be decided in cooperation with non-EU countries, such as the United Kingdom and Norway, or through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs). International consultations for many of these stocks are still ongoing, as are the negotiations of the future EU-UK partnership, including on fisheries, and therefore the respective TACs are put as pro memoria awaiting the outcome of negotiations.

Sustainable fishing has made substantial progress in the EU. In 2020, 62 out of 78 TACs are set at a level that allows a healthy future for the fish stocks’ biomass, while taking into account socio-economic factors (“maximum sustainable yield” (MSY), compared to only 5 out of 35 in 2009. Despite reduced fishing activity during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic, preliminary results show that the sector remains profitable, with estimated gross profits expected to reach 1.5 billion EUR in 2020.

The Commission proposal bases itself on scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). For stocks with a full scientific assessment, the Commission is proposing fishing levels in line with maximum sustainable yield (MSY). For stocks where less data is available, the Commission bases itself on the ICES’ precautionary advice. In cases where the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea advises no catches, the Commission either proposes a small fishing quota for a scientific fishery to ensure continued data collection, or limits the fishing to by-catches. In line with the provisions of the Common Fisheries Policy and the applicable multiannual management plans, this helps to avoid “choke” situations so that fishermen and women can continue targeting the healthy stocks.

 

Table 1: proposals for Total Allowable Catch (TAC)

 

Common name

Scientific name

TAC Unit TAC 2021 (Proposal, in t) TAC change: 2020 – 2021 (Proposal) Explanation
Anglerfish

Lophiidae

 

8c, 9 and 10; Union waters of CECAF 34.1.1

3 672

 

 

-13%* The TAC comprises two species of anglerfish, one with MSY advice and another with precautionary advice. The Commission proposes to set the TAC in line with the scientific advice, by combining the scientific advice figures and allocating an established percentage to this TAC. A de minimis amount has been deducted.
Hake Merluccius merluccius 8c, 9 and 10; Union waters of CECAF 34.1.1 7 825 -13%* The Commission proposes to decrease the TAC in line with the scientific advice. A de minimis amount has been deducted.
Horse Mackerel Trachurus spp. 9 128 627 +5%* The Commission proposes to increase the TAC by 10% in line with the ICES advice for MSY point value. A de minimis amount has been deducted.
Megrims Lepidorhombus spp. 8c, 9 and 10; Union waters of CECAF 34.1.1 2 158 -11%* The TAC comprises two species. The Commission proposes to set the TAC in line with the MSY advice for the two species. A de minimis amount has been deducted.
Norway lobster Nephrops norvegicus 8c 2.4 -11% The Commission proposes to set the TAC in line with the ICES advice for a scientific fishery.
Plaice Pleuronectes platessa Kattegat 719 -69%* The Commission proposes to set the TAC in line with the ICES advice, at the MSY point value. A de minimis amount has been deducted.
Plaice Pleuronectes platessa 7b and 7c 19 -74% The Commission proposes to decrease the TAC in line with the scientific advice.
Plaice Pleuronectes platessa 8, 9 and 10; Union waters of CECAF 34.1.1 155 -44% The Commission proposes to decrease the TAC in line with the scientific advice.
Pollack Pollachius pollachius 8a, 8b, 8d and 8e 1 037 -30% The Commission proposes to decrease the TAC by 30% in the direction of the scientific advice.
Pollack Pollachius pollachius 8c 166 -20% The Commission proposes to decrease the TAC by 20% in the direction of the scientific advice.
Pollack Pollachius pollachius 9 and 10; Union waters of CECAF 34.1.1 203 -20% The Commission proposes to decrease the TAC by 20% in the direction of the scientific advice.
Common sole Solea solea 3a; Union waters of subdivisions 22-24 596 +12% The Commission proposes to increase the TAC by 12% in line with the scientific advice for MSY point value.
Common sole Solea solea 7b and 7c 34 -20% The Commission proposes to decrease the TAC by 20% in the direction of the scientific advice.
Common sole Solea solea 8a and 8b 3 483 -8%* The Commission proposes to set the TAC in line with the scientific advice for MSY point value. A de minimis amount has been deducted.
Sole Solea spp. 8c, 8d, 8e, 9 and 10; Union waters of CECAF 34.1.1 502 -42% The Commission proposes to decrease the TAC in line with the scientific advice.

* For TACs with a de minimis deduction under the landing obligation, the comparison is made based on Union quotas.

 

 

Table 2: Stocks for which the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is delegated to an individual Member State

 

Common name Scientific name TAC Unit Delegated to
Horse Mackerel Trachurus spp. Union waters of CECAF (Canaries) Spain
Horse Mackerel Trachurus spp. Union waters of CECAF (Madeira) Portugal
Horse Mackerel Trachurus spp. 10, Union waters of CECAF (Azores) Portugal
Penaeus shrimps Penaeus spp. French Guyana France

 

 

Table 3: Other stocks covered by today’s proposal and not in pro memoria

 

Common name Scientific name TAC Unit Comment
Sandeel and associated by-catches Ammodytes spp. Union waters of 2a, 3a and 4  Awaiting scientific advice in 2021
Anchovy Engraulis encrasicolus 9 and 10; Union waters of CECAF 34.1.1 Already set for the period 1 July 2020-30 June 2021
Sprat and associated by-catches Sprattus sprattus 3a Already set for the period 1 July 2020-30 June 2021
Sprat and associated by-catches Sprattus sprattus Union waters of 2a and 4 Already set for the period 1 July 2020-30 June 2021
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European Commission proposes fishing opportunities for 2021

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