On 31 March 2022, the Council adopted its Regulation updating the EU’s fishing rights for 2022, which applies retroactively as of 1 January 2022. This follows the agreement reached between the European Union and the United Kingdom last December. As announced, the measures applicable to seabass recreational fisheries are simply rolled over from 2021.
Last December, the EU and the UK agreed on the fishing opportunities for 2022 for their shared stocks. The agreement establishes the Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for 65 shared fish stocks, including an iconic species for recreational fishers: seabass.
Back in June 2021, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea released its scientific advice
for seabass, advising that the total removals for both commercial and recreational catches should be no more than 2,216 tonnes, including no more than 583 tonnes for recreational catches. As this represents an increase compared to the previous year, the EAA advocated for a higher bag limit of 3 specimen per day and per angler (instead of 2) over a longer open season, from March to December (instead of November).
Disappointingly, the EU and the UK decided
to simply roll over the arrangements already in place during 2021 for recreational fisheries
. On the contrary, for commercial fisheries, after extensive relaxation in 2021, the EU decided again to introduce minor relaxations for 2022, including by increasing the commercial TAC. The EAA regrets such decision.
In practice, this means the following for European anglers:
- In Southern Atlantic waters (ICES divisions 8a and 8b), a daily bag limit of two fish per angler remains in place for 2022.
- In Northern Atlantic waters (ICES divisions 4b, 4c, 6a and 7a to 7k), only catch-and-release will be allowed in January, February and December. From March until November, the bag limit of two fish per day and per angler will apply, with a minimum size which remains at 42 cm.
The Council implemented this agreement in a Regulation updating the EU's fishing opportunities for 2022. You can find the Council Regulation and Annexes here.