Brussels seeks to get fisheries management on track in 2011
The European Commission has published its report launching discussions on fishing opportunities in EU waters in 2011.
Maritime affairs and fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki wants to bring EU fishing limits back to sustainable levels in 2011 in line with the EU's international commitments and recommendations from the authoritative science bodies which advise the Commission.
Damanaki would like to see a tougher method applied to setting quotas and days at sea, in order to meet international standards.
"I want to be clear that the quota levels set must respect all the EU's commitments to sustainability, our commitments to nearby states, and the commitments we have made under the long-term plans," she said.
In 2002 all the member states agreed that fish stocks should be exploited so that they could deliver the highest possible sustainable catches, and that this should be done by 2015.
There has been progress since then, with 11 stocks meeting the target in 2009 compared with only two in 2002. Yet most stocks are still overfished, the Commission said.
The stocks that met the target last year were: sole in the Kattegat and Skagerrak; sole in the North Sea; haddock in the North Sea; haddock at Rockall; west of Scotland herring; herring in the Celtic Sea; nephrops in the North Sea; plaice in the Irish Sea; saithe in the North Sea and in the west of Scotland, cod in the eastern Baltic; and herring in the Bothnian Sea.
North Sea herring and North Sea haddock met the target in 2002.
The Commission draws up a report on fishing opportunities every year to explain to fishers and their industry what common rules will be used to set the quotas.
Common rules are put in place to ensure that all fleets are treated equally and fairly.
The Commission will base itself on the following guiding principles when making proposals : environmental sustainability; stability in quotas as far as possible; implement long-term plans; meet international commitments; reduce overfishing and rebuild stocks; use international consensus scientific advice; where there is uncertainty, use more caution.
It relies on scientific advice from two international committees of experts when proposing fish quotas: the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, based in Copenhagen, and the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries. This advice will be available in June or July.
The Commission will now send the report to the fishers, others concerned with the industry and Member States for consultation and examination. After taking account of their replies, the Commission may adapt the strategy before using it to propose the fishing possibilities for next year.
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