Proposal for sea bass measures not adopted (Netherlands)

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17 Dec

Yesterday, the EU Council of Ministers decided on TACs and quotas for 2015. The Commission’s proposed regulation for TAC and quota 2015 also included proposals to limit commercial and recreational fishing for bass.

Press release - by EAA's Dutch member organisation 'Sportvisserij Nederland'. This is the rough translation from the Dutch language.

These were, a pair-trawling days-at-sea scheme for the Channel, a very far-reaching landings constraint for all European sea bass fishing vessels and a bag-limit for recreational anglers of one bass per person per day.

The ICES advice for 2015 shows that a reduction in fishing mortality of 60% is required to give bass a chance to recover. Our position has been communicated extensively earlier. We have also indicated the imbalance between the measures aimed at commercial fishing and recreational fishing, which we find unacceptable as 75% of the fishing mortality is caused by the commercial sector and 25% of recreational fishing.

That imbalance became apparent when the Commission's proposal should be negotiated in Brussels. The Commission explained the need for more restrictions on commercial fishing than was initially communicated. But that was likely the breaking point. The French government did not want to give in on as much as one kilo of sea bass. UK also had major problems with the Commission proposals because the sea bass then would come under the landing obligation [the no-discard regime].

Proportional Measures

The British Minister for Fisheries George Eustice in the EU council meeting strongly advocated proportional measures in between the commercial and recreational sectors.

“I was disappointed no decision was reached this year to improve bass stocks but will be following up on the Commission’s commitment to work with Member States in the New Year. The UK has been a lone voice on this issue and it is essential we achieve a balanced approach which reflects the contribution of both commercial fisheries as well as recreational anglers on declining bass numbers.”

EU Commission

Now that the Council was unable to reach an agreement on the proposed sea bass measures, the EU Commission has kicked the ball back to the member states. The Commission gave the following statement yesterday:

" The Commission and the Member States involved in this fishery, must remain committed to doing the utmost possible, as of the start of the fishing season in January 2015, to reduce fishing pressure, protect spawning aggregations and prevent a collapse. The Commission will continuously monitor the situation and if necessary will examine the need to take measures under Article 12 of the CFP Regulation and/or Article 45 of Regulation (EC) No 850/98."

Emergency measures

The last sentence by the Commission refers to the possibility that it has to take emergency measures. We believe that emergency measures is the only possible way forward, as the likelihood that Member States will come together now, is very slim. It is also thinkable that the same measures, as mentioned above, will be proposed in the Commission's advice to the Council. Maybe more, but certainly not less. When and exactly how this will happen is not yet known. Emergency measures have a limited validity period (6 months) and can be extended one time only.

EAA & Sportvisserij Netherlands

The European Anglers Alliance (EAA) and Sportvisserij Nederland will in the coming period, nationally and internationally, work hard and committed for effective and proportionate measures and a long-term plan instead of ineffective and disproportionate measures such as bag-limits, which are only serving as window dressing. We are supporting bass management in which recreational and commercial fishing contributes proportionally, and aimed at achieving as soon as possible stock recovery.

We also express our concern over the fact that for most other stocks it was decided to allow more catches in 2015 than the scientists consider safe, and this goes against the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). NB! It is laid down in EU legislation that overfishing must be ended by 2015 where possible and in any event no later than 2020.

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