The European Institutions recently agreed on two important pieces of legislation regarding fisheries: a multiannual management plan for the Baltic Sea and a ban on deep sea fishing.
The European Parliament has voted and adopted a multi-annual plan for the stocks of cod, herring and sprat in the Baltic Sea and the fisheries exploiting those stocks. The Baltic Plan is the first multispecies management plan that has been adopted under the new Common Fisheries Policy and it will serve as an example for future regional plans, such as the one for the North Sea. A key point of the new multi-species management plan are the ranges within which the Council can set the Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas. The plan also takes into account the discard ban (landing obligation). The regulation will be effective five days after its publication in the EU Official Journal.
We are particularly happy that the four fisheries relevant descriptors from the Marine Strategy Framework Directive have been mentioned explicitly under the objectives (Article 3):
“In particular the plan shall aim to:
(a) ensure that the conditions described in descriptor 3 contained in Annex I to Directive 2008/56/EC are fulfilled; and
(b) contribute to the fulfilment of other relevant descriptors contained in Annex I to that Directive in proportion to the role played by fisheries in their fulfilment.”
Descriptor 3 reads:
“Populations of all commercially exploited fish and shellfish are within safe biological limits, exhibiting a population age and size distribution that is indicative of a healthy stock.”
When implemented correctly, we will see more of the bigger and biggest fish in the water, which is good for the health of the fish stocks and very welcomed by anglers.
Furthermore, after four years of negotiations the European Parliament and the Council of the EU agreed on a ban on fishing below a depth of 800 meters in the North-East Atlantic. The aim of the new rules is to protect the fragile marine ecosystems of the deep seas. Moreover, a special provision to ban fishing in vulnerable marine ecosystems was included in the regulation. Nevertheless, some NGOs have voiced their disappointment concerning the agreement that, according to them, is not ambitious enough as it is only applicable in EU waters.
The informal agreement needs to be endorsed by the Parliament's Fisheries Committee and the Council. The plenary vote is foreseen for November. The regulation should enter into force in January 2017.
● “Multiannual plan for the stocks of cod, herring and sprat in the Baltic Sea and the fisheries exploiting those stocks”