Atlantic and North Sea catch limits set

In 2018, the number of stocks fished at Maximum Sustainable Yield levels will be increased to 53 In 2018, the number of stocks fished at Maximum Sustainable Yield levels will be increased to 53

The Fisheries Council has upped catch limits in the Atlantic and North Sea for 2018, but introduced stricter controls for seabass and eels.

Next year, the number of stocks fished at Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) levels will be increased to 53 next year, compared to only five in 2009.

"We welcome that [the] sacrifices are paying off; in fact, two-thirds of the fish stocks will be already exploited at the maximum levels of sustainability for next year,” said Javier Garat, President of Europêche.

“[But] the EC should not rush towards achieving MSY levels in the short-term at any cost when the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) clearly provides a flexible timeline to achieve this objective by 2020 without compromising the survival of the EU fishing fleets.”

Questions raised

Mr Garat did raise some questions though, especially when it came to the new eel catch limits.

The Council introduced a ground-breaking prohibition to fish for European eel of an overall length of 12cm or more in Union waters (excluding the Mediterranean), for a continuous period of three months which will be determined by each Member State.

Mr Garat said that he failed to understand why the EU agreed on adopting such dramatic measures against the eel fisheries, even more when no impact assessment on the socio-economic consequences of such a proposal has been carried out.

With regards to seabass, the decision was made to only allow limited fisheries with certain gears in the Celtic Sea, Channel, Irish Sea and southern North Sea, while establishing a two months closure of the fishery to protect the spawning population.

The Fisheries Council said that such strong measures were needed to improve the state of these stocks. This is to ensure good progress towards sustainable fish stocks and viable fishing opportunities for the industry within the legal time-frame set by the CFP.

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