Oceana welcomes the European Commission’s proposal for 2016 Atlantic fishing limits
Press Release Date: November 10, 2015
Today, the European Commission released its annual proposal of total allowable catches (TACs) for the main commercial fish species in North East Atlantic waters for 2016. Oceana has welcomed the proposal that sets a key milestone towards ending overfishing by 2020, but is disappointed that the Commission has failed to fully meet catch reductions advised by scientists for certain stocks. A final decision will be negotiated with the 28 EU fisheries council ministers during a meeting on 14th-15th December in Brussels.
“Despite some shortfalls, the Commission proposal is moving in the right direction – away from short-term thinking that has allowed nearly half of the European Atlantic stocks to currently be overfished,” explains Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “Fisheries ministers must stop ignoring science when deciding on fishing limits in December, otherwise the Common Fisheries Policy will remain a facade. The 2020 legally binding deadline for ending overfishing is fast approaching and decisions taken this year will make or break the ultimate sustainability promise given to the environment and the fishermen.”
The Commission proposal includes 63 stocks recommending a catch increase for 4 stocks of megrims and horse mackerel, maintaining the catches for 31 stocks and a catch reduction for 28 stocks. All of the increases and most of the reduction proposals are in line with scientific advice, except for 8 stocks of blue ling, plaice, pollack, sea bass and whiting, where the Commission proposed insufficient cuts of only up to 20%.
The Commission’s proposal is based on two principles: the phasing out of overfishing and a progressive implementation of the discard ban, which from 2016 will also apply to a reduced number of fisheries targeting demersal fish species such as cod, hake, nephrops and sole. Fishing opportunities (TACs) is the most effective management tool available to EU fisheries for keeping fishing mortality rates within sustainable levels.
Oceana laments the significant gap between sustainability commitments on paper and the actual political decisions taken by the EU Member States.
Oceana urges EU fisheries ministers to:
• Stop overshooting scientific advice and decide on TACs in line with their CFP commitments.
• Provide a strong justification and a detailed timeframe in cases where the sustainable rate of exploitation (maximum sustainable yield, MSY) will not be possible in 2016 due to exceptional socio-economic impacts.