The European Commission has published its proposed catch limits for fish stocks in EU waters for 2023

The European Commission has published its proposed catch limits for fish stocks in EU waters for 2023

Today, the Commission published its proposal for catch limits for fish stocks in the EU waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Kattegat and Skagerrak for 2023, including for deep-sea stock for 2023 and 2024.

The proposal concerns 17 total allowable catches (TACs)for the fisheries operating on stocks managed solely by the EU. Recovery of the largest stocks, notably the horse mackerel, allows the Commission to propose a quota increases. The proposal will be updated after the conclusion of the bilateral (with Norway and the United Kingdom) and multilateral consultations with the Coastal States, and the completion of the decision-making processes in the regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs).

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: “Our proposal for increased catches of Atlantic stocks managed by the EU is good news for our fishers and it comes at the right moment given the dire economic situation they are facing, with rising fuel prices and the impact on the profitability of the sector. The proposal shows that science-based fisheries management pays off. However, I am very concerned about the state of the European eel. We must be decisive in reinforcing the measures at sea and I call on the Member States to act without delay on the other pressures on this stock.”

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The proposal is based on scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES):

  • For 8 out 17 stocks, the advice allows the Commission to propose catch limits in line with the objective of sustainable management of fish stocks (maximum sustainable yield, or MSY), with an increase in catch limits for six of these eight stocks.
  • For the nine stocks, scientific data was not sufficient. As a result, the proposal is based on the precautionary approach.  For all of these stocks, a roll-over or decrease in catch limits is proposed.

Stocks for which scientific advice is available: limits within the maximum sustainable yield

The Commission proposes to set the TACs at MSY-point for six of those eight stocks.

For plaice in the Kattegat, the Commission proposes a TAC below the MSY-point value. Setting a lower TAC for plaice would support the recovery of cod in the same area, which is a by-catch of the same fishery and for which there is a zero catch advice.

For hake in the southern Bay of Biscay, Iberian waters and waters around the Azores (Southern hake), the proposal suggests an increase by 10% of the total allowable catch staying within the MSY-range advised by ICES. This additional rise follows a substantial in-year increase of the TAC for 2022, proposed by the Commission based on scientific advice and agreed by the Council on 17 October 2022. The proposal also maintains a recreational catch limit of two fish per day for Southern seabass in the Bay of Biscay, also at MSY.

Stocks awaiting scientific advice

For Red seabream in the Iberian waters, a deep-sea stock, ICES delivers its advice every two years. The proposal, therefore, includes the TACs for both 2023 and 2024 for that stock.

Another seven stocks, managed solely by the EU, are still awaiting scientific advice (anchovy in the Bay of Biscay, three stocks of Norway lobstercod in the Kattegat, and the deep-sea stock roundnose grenadier in the Skagerrak and Kattegat), while the TAC for anchovy in the Iberian waters and waters around the Azores has already been set until June 2023.

Stronger protection of eels due to critical stock status

The Commission further proposes to reinforce the existing measures for the protection of eels in all relevant EU waters, specifically in the Atlantic, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean in order to help the stock recover. The proposal for 2023 extends the closure for any eel fishing activity from three to six consecutive months in marine and adjacent brackish waters and clarifies to Member States how to set closure periods to ensure their effectiveness.

In its advice on the European eel stock, ICES reiterated that the status of the stock remains critical. ICES also advised that there should be zero catches of eel in all habitats and at all life stages.  In addition, ICES advises that non-fisheries impacts, such as habitat destruction and loss, migration barriers (hydropower, pumping stations) and pollution, should be minimised and, where possible, eliminated. In its technical evaluation of the Member States’ implementation of the Eel Regulation published earlier this year, ICES found no overall progress by Member States and highlighted the need for more effort in addressing non-fisheries impacts.

The proposal, which took into account feedback from a stakeholder consultation on how best to implement latest scientific advice, addresses only eel mortality from marine commercial and recreational fisheries. To ensure a comprehensive approach, in parallel to the measures proposed for marine waters in the context of this proposal, the Commission plans to work with Member States to help them strengthen national measures to reduce other mortality factors, such as reducing or restricting inland fishing, restoring or improving river habitats for eels, ensuring safe eel migration routes to prevent injury or death in hydropower stations, combatting predators, and fighting baby eel trafficking.

Next steps

EU fisheries ministers are expected to adopt the EU fishing opportunities in the Atlantic and other areas for the year 2023, and in some cases for 2024, at the Council meeting on 12-13 December 2022.

Note: Figures for the TACs for which scientific advice is not yet available or for which consultations with non-EU countries are ongoing are currently marked in the proposal as ‘pm’ or pro memoria. These figures will be included in the proposal when the advice becomes available or the consultations are concluded, through so-called ‘non-papers’.

Table 1: Proposal for Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for 2023

Common name Scientific name TAC area Proposed EU quota for 2023 (tonnes) Proposed EU quota change from 2022 Explanation
Anglerfish

Lophiidae

 

8c, 9 and 10; Union waters of CECAF 34.1.1 4 156 +12%

The TAC covers two species.

The Commission proposes to set the TAC in line with MSY point for both species.

Hake Merluccius merluccius 8c, 9 and 10; Union waters of CECAF 34.1.1 15 554 +10%

The Commission proposes TAC in line with MSY upper, as hake is expected to be the most limiting species in the mixed fisheries.

 

Horse Mackerel Trachurus spp. 9 158 005 +15%

The Commission proposes TAC in line with MSY point.

 

Megrims Lepidorhombus spp. 8c, 9 and 10; Union waters of CECAF 34.1.1 3 120 +33%

The TAC covers two species. The Commission proposes to set the TAC in line with the MSY point for both species.

 

Norway lobster Nephrops norvegicus 8c, functional unit 31 9 – 36% The Commission proposes TAC in line with the MSY point.
Plaice Pleuronectes platessa Kattegat 1 059 + 91%

The Commission proposes TAC in line with MSY lower, as cod, for which there is a zero catch advice, is a by-catch in this fishery.

 

Plaice Pleuronectes platessa 7b and 7c 19 rollover The Commission proposes TAC in line with the precautionary advice.
Plaice Pleuronectes platessa 8, 9 and 10; Union waters of CECAF 34.1.1 155 rollover The Commission proposes TAC in line with the precautionary advice.
Pollack Pollachius pollachius 8a, 8b, 8d and 8e 1 334 – 10% The Commission proposes to reduce the TAC in the direction of the scientific advice.
Pollack Pollachius pollachius 8c 149

– 10%

 

The Commission proposes to reduce the TAC in the direction of the scientific advice.
Pollack Pollachius pollachius 9 and 10; Union waters of CECAF 34.1.1 182

– 10%

 

The Commission proposes to reduce the TAC in the direction of the scientific advice.
Common sole Solea solea 3a; Union waters of subdivisions 22-24 498 – 30%

Commission proposes TAC in line with MSY point.

 

Common sole Solea solea 7b and 7c 19 – 44% Commission proposes TAC in line with precautionary advice.
Common sole Solea solea 8a and 8b 2 620 + 20%

Commission proposes TAC in line with MSY point.

 

Sole Solea spp. 8c, 8d, 8e, 9 and 10; Union waters of CECAF 34.1.1 582 – 11% The TAC covers three species of sole in this area. ICES only provides advice for common sole in this area. Commission proposes TAC in line with that advice, and taking into account the species-specific catches (55% common sole and 45% other sole species).
Whiting Merlangius merlangus 8 2 276 + 5%

The Commission proposes TAC in line with the precautionary advice.

 

Red seabream

 

Pagellus bogaraveo Union and international waters of 9

114

(for 2023 and for 2024)

-4%

(change from 2021 and 2022)

The Commission proposes TAC in line with precautionary advice.

 

 

Table 2: Stocks delegated to an individual Member State

Common name Scientific name TAC area 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 Guiana waters France

Black scabbardfish (deep-sea stock,

set for 2023 and for 2023)

Aphanopus carbo Union and international waters of CECAF 34.1.2 Portugal

 

Source: Press Release

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Proposed catch limits in EU waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Kattegat and Skagerrak for 2023

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