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Commercial Fishing



Europêche says industry faces many challenges in 2020. Europêche, the European fishing industry representative body, says this week’s EU Fish Council to went some way in deciding upon catching opportunity for 2020, reconciled the twin objectives of fish stock sustainability and supporting fishing communities.

A statement from Europêche, said: “A two-day long intensive negotiation finished this very morning with the difficult political compromise reached by EU Fisheries ministers on the catch limits for 2020. This agreement reconciles the objective to secure healthy stocks with the need to ensure the socio-economic sustainability of the EU fleet. The latter was acknowledged by the Council which, after a predominantly conservationist proposal from the European Commission, adopted a better-balanced decision in light of the socio-economic data provided by Member States. The industry will however face many challenges for next year due to the extreme quota reductions and restrictive measures adopted for key species such as cod in all EU waters.

“The EU has set strict catch limits for fish stocks in the Atlantic, the North Sea, and international fisheries with the aim to achieve high long-term yields for all stocks, referred to as Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). This means that EU vessels will only catch the right amount of fish that would guarantee the regeneration of the stocks.

“Europêche welcomes that the quota cut proposed for southern hake was reduced from -20% to -5%, in line with the multiannual plan. Concerning northern hake, despite last year’s increase, the Council endorsed the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) reductions of around 20% for all other hake stocks in the rest of Community waters. These stocks show healthy biomass levels, therefore a limited reduction of the fishing pressure would suffice to keep the stocks in good shape, according to scientists.

“The EU fishing sector regrets the decrease in North Sea saithe by 15% in spite of the good results yielded last year. The Council also adopted a roll-over for whiting in the North Sea as well as steep quota reductions in other relevant areas such as the Celtic Sea by 43%. Common sole stocks, generally see increased catch limits thanks to the good state of the stock which will benefit fishermen’s pockets. Besides, the flatfish situation in the North Sea is extremely favourable with the stocks for both main species, sole and plaice, well within the MSY limits. Therefore, TAC’s could be raised by 40% and 17% respectively, which is especially an encouraging sign for the fisheries dependent communities.

“Whereas the Council decided last year to reduce the TAC for haddock in the North Sea by 30%, the positive results for these species in international waters resulted this year in a rightful 23% increase. In the Celtic waters for these species, the Council decided to endorse the Commission’s proposal to increase the haddock TAC by only 30% despite the 100% advised by ICES. This restrictive approach was preferred to protect the vulnerable cod stock that is caught as a bycatch of haddock.