Commission proposes fishing opportunities in the Atlantic and North Sea for 2014

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Source: Europa Press Room

Brussels -- Atlantic and the North Sea, as well as in international waters. This is the annual proposalfor the amount of fish which can be caught by EU fishermen from the main commercialfish stocks next year. The proposal sets levels of total allowable catch (TAC) and fishingeffort both for stocks managed exclusively by the EU, and for stocks managed with thirdcountries such as Norway or through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations acrossthe world's oceans.

International negotiations for many of the stocks concerned are still on-going. Theproposal therefore only includes figures for about half of the TACs at this stage. It will becompleted once negotiations with third parties and organisations have taken place.

For the stocks not shared with third countries, the Commission proposes to increase ormaintain the TACs for 36 stocks, and reduce them for 36 stocks, in line with the scientificadvice.

The Commission's ultimate goal, and one of the pillars of the reformed Common FisheriesPolicy (CFP), is to have all stocks fished at sustainable levels, the so-called MaximumSustainable Yield (MSY). Whenever possible, the scientists advise how to bring the stocksto MSY levels. This year, the so-called 'MSY advice' could be issued for 22 EU stocks. Thisis a significant step forward as far as the availability and quality of scientific data areconcerned.

Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: 'TheCommission proposal contains good news for some stocks, while some cuts are requiredfor others. Overall, our knowledge of many stocks has improved which enables soundmanagement decisions to be made. For stocks where negotiations are on-going we will, asever, make every effort to obtain the best outcome for our fishermen. We hope that ourpartners and the international community will mirror our commitment to sustainablefisheries.'

The present proposal shall be discussed by the Member States' ministers at the DecemberFisheries Council and will apply from 1 January 2014.Details of the proposalFor some EU stocks at MSY, such as herring in the Irish Sea, Northern hake, Megrims in Iberian waters or plaice in the Celtic Sea TACs can be raised.

At the same time, for some stocks in a poor state, the picture has unfortunately notgreatly improved since last year. Cod stocks in the Irish Sea and the Kattegat continue tobe in a dire state, and the poor data hampers the management of these stocks. Sole inthe Irish Sea is at extremely low levels. Advice for haddock in the Celtic Sea demands aconsiderable TAC cut, so that the stock can be brought to MSY levels. Cod and whiting inthe West of Scotland, subject to extremely high rates of discarding, are at a risk ofcollapse.

For stocks where data is not good enough to properly estimate their size, the Commissionproposal reflects the advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea(ICES) to adapt the TAC up or down by a maximum of 20%. Following a Council decisionlast year on precautionary reductions, TACS are proposed at the same level as in 2013 for21 of these stocks.

For a limited number of EU stocks, the scientific advice has been received only recently, orit will be released later this month. For these stocks, the advice needs to be furtheranalysed before a TAC figure will be proposed, later in the autumn.For fish stocks shared with third countries (Norway, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland,Russia), the European Commission, on behalf of the EU, negotiates towards the end ofeach year with these countries on the quantities of fish to be caught the following year,based on scientific advice.

For the stocks in international waters and for highly migratory species, such as tuna, theEuropean Commission, representing the EU, negotiates fishing opportunities in theframework of Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs). These mustsubsequently be transposed into EU law.

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