Report | December 4, 2017

Joint NGO recommendations on fishing opportunities for 2018. Northeast Atlantic and North Sea stocks

The Pew Charitable Trusts, Seas At Risk, Oceana, ClientEarth and the Fisheries Secretariat provide recommendations to EU fisheries ministers regarding the 2018 Northeast Atlantic and North Sea Total Allowable Catches (TACs) that the Council will set on 11–12 December 2017. The groups urge decision-makers to consider the following recommendations:

Meet the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy by:

  • Setting the TACs for all stocks at levels not exceeding scientific advice, specifically not exceeding FMSY where MSY advice is available, and not exceeding precautionary limits where it is not available, including for stocks under a “presumption of stability”;
  • Explicitly considering mixed fishery implications, which will mean setting TACs for some stocks below the advised levels to ensure that other stocks are not overexploited;
  • Ensuring that bycatch provision footnotes do not allow total catches of any given stock to exceed scientific advice;
  • Introducing stock-specific measures for vulnerable stocks without a TAC, as well as stocks covered by a combined TAC, to ensure their recovery and sustainable exploitation;
  • Adding European eel to the prohibited species list, and introducing measures that encourage avoidance, ensure reliable catch documentation, and improve survivability of released eel.

Correctly implement the landing obligation by:

  • Not granting TAC top-ups that would result in an overall fishing mortality above scientifically advised maximum levels, and not assigning top-ups in the absence of the scientifically assessed discard data from the fleet segments under the landing obligation;
  • Accounting for de minimis discards under ‘combined’ exemptions in the manner recommended by STECF;
  • Not removing TACs or adding species to the prohibited species list in order to avoid the full implementation of the landing obligation.

Improve the transparency and accountability of the TAC-setting process by:

  • Providing clear justifications and sound scientific and/or socio-economic evidence in the cases where TACs are set above levels advised by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), and documenting in a clear and detailed manner the steps taken to reach agreement on a given TAC, including the information and considerations used when setting TACs for stocks subject to a mismatch between TAC management units and scientific advice;
  • Making all of the above information, as well as comprehensive and detailed minutes of the Council negotiations publicly available as soon as the TACs have been agreed.