EU Commissioner says Interannual Flexibility Clause remains in place for 2021

The PECH Committee has been informed that quota flexibility will remain the same despite fishing being affected by the COVID-19 virus.

Speaking to the PECH Committee yesterday, EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, told the group that the Commission currently has no change to the Interannual Flexibility Clause and Member States will be allowed to bank 10% of their 2020 quota and carry it into 2021.

Europeche and EAPO called on the Commission to consider ‘augmented flex’ for banking up to 25% of the quota applicable to all commercial fish species during this coronavirus pandemic but this idea has been dismissed as the Commissioner feels that there may be time after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed for fishing vessels to return to sea and fill their quotas.

This would mean the Commission would not consider extending and/or redistributing quotas until the end of the year, if the coronavirus crisis further imposes in 2020.

Speaking to the Peche Committee Meeting of the EU Parliament the Commissioner said:

“Regarding the flexibility to transfer unused quotas to next year, yes the current disruption due to the coronavirus may lead to an under-utilisation of fishing quotas in EU Member States. However, as the duration and the end of the confinement period are not yet clear and may vary between Member States, it is simply impossible to estimate the level of under-utilisation which may change according to the stocks targeted in the fishing sector.

“Once fishing activities resume in 2020, and during the remainder of 2020, it is still possible for Member States to reallocate what does amongst various national operators and fishing activities and/or to prolong fishing activities until the end of the year in order to fully consume their quotas.

“If quotas still remain, it is possible for EU Member States to use the Interannual Flexibility Clause which allows them to bank 10% of their unused 2020 quota and use them in 2021.”