The fishing industry wants stable quotas for horse mackerel, and this goes hand in hand with the precautionary principle. This was the message when the Fisheries Committee on 20 June held an exchange of views on the multi-annual plan for Atlantic horse mackerel.
Sustainable stock management provides the stability that the fishing industry wants, according to Sean O’Donoghue, who was invited to the Committee to speak on behalf of the Pelagic RAC (the Regional Advisory Council for pelagic fisheries).
Sean O’Donoghue said that it is a major problem that the ministers in Fisheries Council each year set the total allowable catch. For the pelagic fishing industry, including more than 600 vessels and 6000 employees, it would be much better to have a long term management plan which would provide stability.
At the hearing David Miller, Chair of ICES working group on widely distributed stocks, said that it is very hard to determine the size of horse mackerel stocks each year. Because of their short lives and unpredictable spawning patterns, determining maximum sustainable yield (MSY) catch levels each year for the horse mackerel is like the gold at the end of the rainbow: “we will never attain it.”
The precautionary principle would therefore require stable harvest control rules to be established in a long term management plan.
Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE) said “It’s been well demonstrated today that the way forward is the harvest control rule. The fishermen are business people, they realise that their income is on a long term basis. They have to have the long term management plans.”
At the moment, the Council and the European Parliament are having troubles agreeing on long term management plans. The two institutions disagree on whether the Parliament should be involved in making these plans.
Pat the Cope Gallagher said that Parliament does not want to use co-decision to be involved in specifying the precise quota each year, but that Parliament should be involved in setting the parameters in the long term plans.