PelAC has offered the European Commission their recommendations on 2023 fishing opportunities
The Pelagic Advisory Council has again called on the European Commission to take action to ensure the future of mackerel stocks and has asked why Brexit is not explicitly covered in the 2023 Commission communication, given its impact on fisheries.
In a letter to the Director-General of DG MARE, Charlina Vitcheva, on Recommendations on 2023 fishing opportunities they write:
“The Pelagic Advisory Council (PelAC) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the “Communication from the Commission towards more sustainable fishing in the EU: state of play and orientations for 2023” and to provide recommendations on Total Allowable Catches (TACs) in 2023 for stocks under its remit. The PelAC makes recommendations on the scientific advice for stocks in its remit when they become available. It has consistently done so since its inception.”
On Brexit, PelAC noted that that is not explicitly covered in the 2023 Commission communication, given its impact on fisheries. The PelAC is of the view that a reference to Brexit and the management of EU-UK fisheries should be included.
On the Economic performance of the EU fleet, PelAC notes:
“As mentioned in recommendations from previous years, the PelAC regrets that orientations for 2023 fishing opportunities build on economic data from 2021, thus making a comparison which is two years behind the year for which scientific advice is given. The PelAC underlines the urgent need for appropriate socio-economic future projections and calls for better alignment with scientific advice data and the future projections by STECF.”
In the letter the AC notes several points on the Landing Obligation, Energy Transition and the Role of Science.
PelAC offered their advice to the Commission on blue whiting, Atlanto-Scandian herring, North Sea horse mackerel, North Sea autumn spawning herring/3A, Western Baltic spring spawning herring, Northeast Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic chub mackerel, Western horse mackerel, Southern horse mackerel, Boarfish, Herring in ICES area 6a North, Herring in ICES area 6a South and 7b,c, and Celtic Sea herring.
On the total allowable catches proposals for 2023 in a general comment. PelAC noted:
“The Pelagic AC would like to draw attention to the specific ecological niches that pelagic species occupy in the Northeast Atlantic ecosystems, and the key role pelagic fish play in global food security. Decision-makers should request ICES to investigate and incorporate ecosystem variables that may influence key life stages of pelagic species into their assessments (such as: the strength of the subpolar gyre and the wind shear factor in the case of blue whiting; the status of sea surface temperature for mackerel). Incorporating these factors into the assessments will increase the likelihood of managing the fisheries that depend on them in a way that is resilient to environmental changes.
“As a general recommendation relevant to multiple stocks under its remit, the PelAC asks the Commission to request ICES to carry out a benchmark meeting as soon as possible that is jointly dedicated to the Western, Southern and North Sea horse mackerel stocks.”
In their letter. PelAC recommended following ICES advice on most stocks including blue whiting, Atlanto-Scandian herring, North Sea autumn spawning herring, boarfish and Celtic Sea herring.
On North Sea horse mackerel, PelAC recommended the Commission to ask ICES to make optimal use of available data for this stock, and prioritize progressing this stock to a category 2, and eventually category 1 assessment. Furthermore, the PelAC asked the Commission to discuss with ICES possibilities to issue one-year catch advice for this stock, rather than a two-year advice.
On Western Horse mackerel, PelAC, notes that as a matter of urgency, they request the Commission to discuss the Western horse mackerel rebuilding plan, developed by the PelAC in 2020, with the UK in upcoming bilateral negotiations in November.
On Northeast Atlantic mackerel, PelAC again requested “immediate action” by the Commission to urge Norway and the Faroe Islands to stop the massive overfishing of mackerel in the Northeast Atlantic stock, jeopardizing the sustainable management of the stock.
“Consequently, the PelAC urges the Commission to act decisively against this irresponsible behavior which is contrary to UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and particularly the 1995 Stradling Stocks Agreement, considered as IUU fishing, by using adapted instruments at its disposal.
“The PelAC recommends following the ICES MSY-advice and setting the TAC for Northeast Atlantic mackerel in 2023 at 782,066 tons.”