As always at the end of the year, EU Fisheries Ministers negotiated until late in the night but managed to find an agreement on the 2021 fishing opportunities. The deal includes the roll-over of management measures for sea bass in Northern and Southern seas.
Due to the Brexit fisheries negotiations which were still ongoing at the time of the AGRIFISH Council, sea bass-related measures are applicable for three months only, from 1 January until 31 March 2021.
In the Northern Atlantic waters (ICES divisions 4b, 4c, 6a and 7a to 7k), only catch-and-release will be allowed in January and February as sea bass stocks remain low. In March, the bag limit of two fish per day and per angler will apply, with a minimum size which remains at 42 cm.
In the Southern Atlantic waters (ICES divisions 8a and 8b), the bag limit of two fish per day per angler still applies for 2021. France and Spain will also have to ensure that the total catches of both commercial and recreational fisheries do not exceed 3,108 tonnes, which is up 575 tonnes in comparison with 2020.
In both waters, recreational fixed nets continue to be forbidden for catching and retaining sea bass, because of their lack of sufficient selectivity.
Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius acknowledged the difficulty of this year’s negotiations as “the EU’s fleet has suffered from the COVID-19 crisis and is facing uncertainty due to still ongoing EU-UK negotiations”.
He also declared that “as a transition measure, the Council has decided to proportionally roll over the TACs for 2020 into the first 3 months of 2021, with several limited exceptions, due to seasonality and particularly worrying scientific advices. This decision will allow our fishermen and women to continue their activities as we finalise negotiations and consultations with our neighbours across the Channel and with Norway.”
References and links
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