Today, the European Commission presented its proposal on fishing opportunities for 2013, for Atlantic fish stocks that falls n within the exclusive competence of EU Member States. Oceana welcomes the proposal, as it establishes catch limits for most stocks that pave the way to the needed sustainability targets.
“The European Commission has taken a step in the direction of sustainability, by proposing catch limits that mostly follow the MSY and precautionary approaches,” stated Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana Europe. “We hope that the Council will continue on this path, and not change course in favor of the short-term economic interests that have prevailed in recent decades.”
The proposal increases total allowable catches (TACs) for ten stocks, decreases TACs for 51, and maintains catch limits for five. While Oceana supports most of these numbers, the conservation organisation regrets the increases that are not scientifically justified, such as those proposed for megrims in the North Sea, and for Norway lobster in the Faeroes grounds and Rockall. Furthermore, several reductions, such as those proposed for cod and sole in the Irish Sea, for hake and Norway lobster in Iberian waters, or for anglerfish in Bay of Biscay, are insufficient to guarantee the responsible exploitation of these resources.
Scientific advice is essential for the responsible management of fisheries resources. Sixty-five percent of fish stocks in the EU are not fully assessed, in many cases because Member States simply do not provide the necessary data. To correct this situation, the Commission´s proposal for the first time includes catch recommendations based on scientific methods that make the best use of available data. As a result, the number of scientific recommendations based on MSY and the precautionary approach has increased to include data-poor stocks.
“There are still dozens of depleted stocks in European waters with biomass levels below safe biological limits, this is a fact that should shame the fisheries ministers of Member States,” added Javier Lopez, Marine Scientist at Oceana Europe. “Catch limits should be set strictly in accordance with scientific advice. This is clearly not the case since around half of the NE Atlantic stocks and 80% of Mediterranean stocks are overexploited.”