A statement released by 9 NGOs regarding the European Commission’s communication on fishing opportunities for 2011 has called on the European Union to scale up its effort in order to protect and recover fish populations.

A statement released by 9 NGOs regarding the European Commission’s communication on fishing opportunities for 2011 has called on the European Union to scale up its effort in order to protect and recover fish populations.

The NGOs, including Seas At Risk, welcomed the commitment of the European Commission in regards to setting sustainable fishing opportunities in line with scientific advice and the precautionary approach. However, they raised a number of concerns on other items addressed by the Communication.

Maximum Sustainable Yield

The NGOs supported the commitment that all stocks are to be exploited at Maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by 2015, but they warned that while reaching MSY constitutes an acceptable intermediate target for stocks that are overfished, it shouldn’t be considered as an ultimate target, but rather as an upper limit.

Data deficiency

It was highlighted that a number of stocks have no advice due to data deficiency, a situation that has worsened substantially in 2010 compared to previous years. With inadequate stock assessment methods in situ, the NGOs called for an urgent address to this problem. In part, they requested actions and timelines to address data insufficiencies and warned that until this situation was resolved, any data-poor management would have to be adaptive and precautionary, in line with the UN Fish Stock Agreement.

TACs

Although it was accepted that TACS set in excess of scientific advice dropped from 2009 to 2010, with 34 per cent still too high the NGOs called for TACs to be urgently aligned with the scientific advice for all stocks.

Deep-sea Fisheries

To the surprise of the environmental groups, the Communication failed to mention the EUs commitment to the actions agreed by the United Nations General Assembly to manage deep-sea fisheries in a sustainable manner. The commitment of the EU should entail basing catch and effort levels on stock assessments, for both target and bycatch species, in line with the long-term sustainability of the stocks. Not meeting the commitments set out by the UN, it was noted, would be tantamount to a failure to follow through with the EU’s international agreement on managing deep-sea fisheries.


NGOs comments on the Communication from the Commission: Consultation on Fishing Opportunities for 2011

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