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The Spanish fishing industry came away from yesterday’s AGRIFISH Council with an additional 4,122 tons of southern hake for 2023. Photo: newsroom.consilium.europa.eu

Spain obtains an additional quota of 4,122 tons of southern hake for the year 2023, 84% more than those initially assigned

The Spanish fishing fleet will be able to capture 4,122 tons of southern hake this year more than the 4,899 that were initially assigned, which means an increase of 84%, by virtue of the agreement to review the regulation of total allowable catches (TAC) and quotas reached today in the Council of Ministers of Agriculture and Fisheries of the European Union (AGRIFISH Council), held in Luxembourg yesterday 17 October 2022.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, has considered that this agreement is “very significant and tremendously important for Spain”, because “it responds to a request from our country based on scientific reports that guarantee the sufficient availability of stocks of this species.” The increase in the quota benefits 1,200 Spanish fishing vessels located mainly in the Atlantic, Cantabrian and the Gulf of Cadiz, and mostly trawlers, gillnetters, bottom longlines and small gear. 

This increase has occurred thanks to Spain’s insistence on revising the exploitation rule for this species, which has allowed it to be reclassified as category 1, thus increasing its TAC within the levels of maximum sustainable yield. At the same time, this decision makes it possible to reverse the trend of the last 8 years with continuous decreases in the TACs adopted. Two years ago, the International Commission for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) decided to downgrade the southern hake assessment category to category 3, due to the failure of the assessment model, and from that moment adopt a precautionary approach. This meant an adoption of very limited TACs in 2021 and 2022 that limited the fishing possibilities of the Spanish fleet.

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“We objected to this consideration because we understood that the stock was in good biological condition, by reference to the available historical series of catches and that fishing could continue, and now the scientific reports from ICES have proved us right,” explained the minister. Since then, the ministry has worked together with the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) to propose an alternative model to ICES that would allow category 1 of the fishery resource to be recovered and get out of the precautionary approach that favoured a very limited TAC. This model was presented and approved in June and has led ICES to review its recommendation for southern hake.

At yesterday’s AGRIFISH Council, Spain announced that it favoured an increase in the bluefin tuna quota at the next meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to be held in November, linked to the preparation of a control regulation, Planas specified.

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Spanish fishing receives bonus southern hake quota at AGRIFISH Council

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