The North Western Waters Advisory Council (NWWAC) has released its Work programme for Year 16 – 01 October 2020 to 30 September 2021.
The North Western Waters Regional Advisory Council (NWWAC) was established in accordance with Commission Decision 2005/668/EC on the 22nd of September 2005 as one of the seven Regional Advisory Councils, proposed under Council Decision 2004/585/EC, establishing Regional Advisory Councils under the Common Fisheries Policy.
With the entry into force of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013, on the Common Fisheries Policy (“CFP Regulation”), on the 1st of January 2014 the Regional Advisory Councils changed to Advisory Councils (ACs). The advisory role of the ACs was also enhanced as a constituent part of this change.
Now in its sixteenth year of operation, which runs from 01 October 2020 to 30 September 2021, the NWWAC wishes to apply for grant-aid from the EU Commission, in accordance with the relevant provisions in force.
The principal aim of the North Western Waters Advisory Council is to bring together European stakeholders (fishermen, representatives of producers organisations, environmental NGOs, recreational anglers, processors and consumers, amongst others) to provide evidence-based advice to the EU Commission, Member States and the European Parliament, in order to achieve the sustainable exploitation of the fish stocks within the geographical remit of the EC waters of sub-areas 5.b, 6 and 7.
The advice produced by the NWWAC is directed by the objective of the Common Fisheries Policy. The NWWAC also addresses the sustainable – biological, economic and social – management of fisheries in the wider context of the integrated maritime policy.
Given the mixed nature of the fisheries within the geographical remit of the NWWAC, the development of sustainable fisheries management options for the short and long term will remain the foundation for advice. The objectives articulated in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive will also be taken into account.
The NWWAC has ten areas it will concentrate on in relation to its main tops.
1/. The Landing Obligation (LO)
The NWWAC will continue its collaboration with NWW Member States and the European Commission to update and further develop the Choke Identification Tool (CldT). It will also work to establish its new Focus Group Landing Obligation with the objective of examining and discussing the effectiveness of the LO.
2/. Technical Measures
The NWWAC will continue to provide advice on technical measures, specifically in the context of the full implementation of Regulation EU 2019/1241 and will monitor and incorporate in its advice, where possible, relevant research to improve selectivity and reduce unwanted catches. Also, in year 16 the NWWAC will continue its collaboration with the NWW Member States Group and scientists to coordinate the ongoing work in different Member States. This will allow the fishing industry and scientists alike to learn best practices and avoid duplication.
3/. Development and implementation of multi-annual management plans
The development and implementation of long-term management plans for fisheries in the North Western Waters has been one of the main focuses of the NWWAC’s work since its establishment. With the publication of the Western Waters Multi-Annual Plan the focus has shifted to the implementation of the aspects of this plan. Therefore the NWWAC established dedicated Focus Groups on management of the following stocks: – Seabass, Scallop, Skates and Rays, Whelk and Brown Crab.
4/. TACs and Quotas
As in previous years, the NWWAC will produce advice in September 2021, in response to the EC Consultation on Fishing Opportunities for 2022. This advice will provide the NWWAC opinion on a number of subject areas, including a review of the state of stocks, the application of MSY, and multi-species considerations.
5/. Functioning of the Advisory Councils
Article 49 (Review) of Regulation (EU) 1380/2013 on the Common Fisheries Policy, provides that by 31 December 2022 ‘the Commission shall report to the European Parliament and to the Council on the functioning of the CFP’ The NWWAC will be contributing in this process.
6/. Ecosystem based approach to fisheries management
The NWWAC encourages the implementation of the ecosystem approach in the North Western Waters by promoting the development of monitoring programmes and conservation measures.
Irish Sea benchmark
Since its establishment in 2014, the ICES Benchmark Workshop on the impact of ecosystem and environmental drivers on Irish Sea fisheries management (WKIrish) has been of great interest to the NWWAC as this workshop not only focuses on the improvement of single species assessments, but aims to incorporate a mixed fisheries model, to develop the integration of ecosystem aspects and to work towards an integrated assessment and advice for this region. While the work of this group officially concluded with the 6th workshop in 2019, the members of the ICES working group as well as the NWWAC members are keen, possibly in a different setting, to continue the work with the results and to prepare advice on its eventual implementation.
In 2019, the European Commission published the Green Deal, its roadmap for making the EU’s economy sustainable. The NWWAC has decided to continue including work on wider environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss, marine plastics, CO2 emissions, impact of seismic activities on fish stocks, in its work programme for Year 16.
The NWWAC and Pelagic AC set up a joint Focus Group on impacts from seismic activities and offshore wind farms with a view to developing specific research questions for an ICES Special Request Advice on the impact of seismic activities on fish stocks and marine ecosystems in the relevant sea basins taking into account previous AC requests to the Commission.
8/. Social Aspects
Over the past years there has been an increasing difficulty to fill vacancies in the seafood sector with qualified employees, and specifically in the catching sector. One of the key issues is a low attractiveness of the catching sector, particularly for new generations of fishermen. This lack of attractiveness can be linked with the balance between remuneration and hardworking conditions. With the number of jobs depending on the fisheries sector declining in the majority of coastal areas, some coastal communities are at risk of not being viable in the future. The NWWAC recognises that social sustainability is intrinsically linked with environmental and economic sustainability and will continue exploring relevant aspects in Year 16 in order to develop advice based on best practice.
9/. Control and compliance
The NWWAC will continue to follow the operational activities of the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) in Areas 5b, 6 and 7 and will participate in Advisory Boards and other Monitoring, Control and Compliance fora, when invited.
There is an active Focus Group on Control and compliance in the NWWAC with the objective of preparing further advice on all relevant monitoring, control and enforcement measures. The work of this Focus Group will continue throughout Year 16.
10/. European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)
The NWWAC will continue to monitor the discussion and provide advice on the EU legislators’ work on the EMFF 2021-2027 regulation.
The full Work Programme can be read here.