migrant fisherman employment rights waiver The NSAC has issued advice for the directed fishery for squid in the North Sea and recommends increasing the minimum mesh size

The NSAC has issued advice for the directed fishery for squid in the North Sea and recommends increasing the minimum mesh size

In a recent development, the North Sea Advisory Council (NSAC) has issued advice regarding technical measures in the directed fishery for squid in the North Sea.

The NSAC Executive Committee approved this advice in a written procedure on October 23, 2023.

 

Background

The NSAC received a request for advice on September 22, 2023, from the Danish Presidency of the Scheveningen Group concerning technical measures for the conservation of fishery resources, with a specific focus on the directed fishery for squid. The regulatory framework for these measures is established by Regulation (EU) 2019/1241, which aims to conserve fisheries resources and protect marine ecosystems.

The advice centers on the establishment of technical measures at the regional level, with the power for the Commission to adopt delegated acts for amendments and modifications, as needed. This process is driven by joint recommendations submitted by Member States, as outlined in Article 18 of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013.

The existing guidelines in Annex V for the North Sea area provide baseline mesh sizes for towed gear, with specific conditions for directed fisheries. These conditions allow the use of smaller mesh sizes under certain circumstances, provided that by-catches of cod, haddock, and saithe do not exceed 20% of the total catch in live weight of all marine biological resources landed after each fishing trip.

The proposed joint recommendation, for which NSAC advice was sought, requests an amendment to the existing regulations concerning directed fishing for squid. The primary goal of this change is to increase the minimum mesh size for this fishery, thus promoting better fishing practices in the North Sea.

 

The Current Situation

Currently, fishing vessels are legally allowed to fish for squid with mesh sizes of 40mm and larger in the entire North Sea. This allowance has raised concerns about potential deviations from the baseline mesh size, which contradicts the objectives outlined in Regulation (EU) 2019/1241. The Scheveningen Group has, therefore, proposed increasing the minimum mesh size for this directed fishery to 80mm.

 

NSAC Advice

In response to this proposal, the NSAC has provided its view. The council members generally support the idea of increasing the minimum mesh size in the directed squid fishery to 80mm. This change aligns with the Gentleman’s Agreement reached between French, Dutch, and Belgian flyshoot vessels in the Southern North Sea and Channel (specific ICES area 7d). It also ensures consistency between EU and UK waters for fishers, maintaining a level playing field.

The NSAC strongly advises Member States to preserve the specific gear category for the directed squid fishery, enabling a clear distinction between different types of fisheries. Moreover, the council emphasizes the importance of seeking a level playing field with other sea basins, including the North Western Waters.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the NSAC believes that increasing the minimum mesh size in the squid fishery is a viable and beneficial measure. It will not only align with international objectives for fisheries conservation but also contribute to sustainable fishing practices. Member States are encouraged to maintain gear type specifications and promote consistency with other geographical areas where targeted squid fisheries exist.

The NSAC’s advice aims to foster positive changes in the directed fishery for squid and enhance the sustainability of this vital industry in the North Sea.

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