Fisheries ministers finalise 2011 catches

15 Dec 2010

The EU Fisheries Council has reached unanimous agreement on the 2011 total allowable catches (TACs) for most stocks under management, allowing much smaller reductions of cod quotas west of the British Isles than the European Commission and scientific advice had suggested.

For the faltering cod stocks in the Kattegat, the Skagerrak and the North Sea, however, the council's decision followed the proposal from the Commission. The TACs for cod in the North Sea and the Skagerrak will be reduced by 20% compared to 2010, and the TACs for the much threatened Kattegat stock will be halved.

For the two areas west of Scotland, the council decided TAC reductions of 3% and 25%, respectively, while the Commission had proposed cuts by 15% and 50%, respectively.

For cod fisheries in the Irish Sea, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has for 10 years advised a total closure – the Council has raised the Commission’s bid for a 50% reduction to 25% decrease from 2010.

Sweden’s agriculture and fisheries minister Eskil Erlandsson praised the decisions on the Kattegat, the Skagerrak and the North Sea, affecting his constituency, as “responsible, reflecting the scientific advice”.

“We must be restrictive in order to have fish left to catch in the future,” he said in a statement, adding that a Swedish proposal has been adopted to evaluate whether it is possible to ban all trawl fisheries in the Kattegat during spawning.

The decision drew less acclaim from environmentalists.

“Certain red lines set out by the Commission were kept, but a large number of quotas are still too high, especially for cod and tuna,” said Greenpeace EU oceans policy director Saskia Richartz.

“Reckless overfishing must be brought under control and fisheries policy reformed to allow fish stocks to recover. Ministers must agree to reduce the size and destructiveness of the fishing fleet and designate marine reserves.”

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