Oceana demands caution from EU in setting anchovy catches in the Bay of Biscay

Oceana calls for a precautionary approach according to ICES advice on Total Allowable Catches, which should be set at 6.000 tn to assure the anchovy biomass

Press Release Date: July 12, 2010

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

The marine conservation organization recalls that the fishery needed to be closed for five years after four previous years of low biomass levels and catches.

Oceana states that in order to prevent past mistakes, the EU is to follow the scientific advice in determining the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of anchovy in the Bay of Biscay. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has proposed a TAC of 6,000 tonnes according to the precautionary approach, which would ensure that another anchovy collapse like that of 2005 does not happen again.

The international marine conservation organization considers that after nine years of bad anchovy biomass data, this advice would allow the biomass of this overexploited species to recover and assure the future of the fishery in Gulf of Biscay.

Ricardo Aguilar, Research Director of Oceana in Europe, affirmed that: “Anchovy in the Gulf of Biscay is an incredibly vulnerable stock. In spite of being a short-lived species, it has taken the stock almost 5 years to recover from the collapse which occurred in 2005. This slow recovery was due to low recruitment episodes, whose causes are still unknown. This situation not only threatens the continuance of this species, but also the livelihoods of fishermen. The current situation necessitates a TAC of 6.000 tonnes in accordance with the precautionary approach”.

Last Thursday, Maria Damanaki, EU Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, released a statement announcing a proposal for a 15,600 tonnes TAC. Oceana affirms that this statement, allegedly based on sound scientific advice, is not in accordance with ICES advice and would put the biomass of the stock again at levels posing a serious threat for the fishery continuity, according to ICES.

Ricardo Aguilar urged the Commission to strictly follow ICES in its proposal, concluding: “The fishery was closed for 5 years for systematically ignoring scientific advice. It was reopened this year with a TAC of 7.000 tonnes despite ICES recommendations, once again. In the spirit of the Common Fisheries Policy Reform, does the Commission and the Council want to keep on repeating the failures of the past or do they want to move towards real sustainability, as promised in the green paper? ”