To rebuild stocks, Commission calls for stricter catch limits

The Commission wants to reduce catches where there is insufficient data about the state of fish stocks.

When fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki today presented the Commission’s annual suggestions for fishing opportunities in EU waters, she announced two pieces of news.

Firstly, the Commission wants to link its advice on catch limits closer to the scientific advice on how to reach maximum sustainable yield (MSY), which is a level where fish stocks can reproduce enough to result in the highest long term catches.

Secondly, and more importantly, the Commission wants to reduce catches for fish stocks where there is not enough data to calculate MSY. In other words, the Commission intends to introduce the precautionary approach.

“Where Member States have not provided the right information, we have to reduce quotas. We have to do it until we know that catches are sustainable,” Damanaki said at a press conference today.

This new method of setting catch quotas will encourage Member States to collect better data on fish stocks, Damanaki said. “This effort will contribute to our plan to bring fishing fleets back into profitability.” Where stocks have been allowed to rebuild, fishermen can now fish less and earn more, Damanaki said.

European citizens, Member States and other stakeholders can now comment on the Commission’s proposal until 1 September.

The exact catch quotas for 2012 will be decided by the Council of Ministers at the end of 2011. At the press conference, Maria Damanaki commented the distribution of quotas between Member States:

“I don’t think this is a zero sum game. This is a win-win game. The ministers are going to win, and the stocks and the citizens are going to win.”

Communication from the Commission on fishing opportunities for 2012

Commission press release

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