In an open letter sent out to Ministers ahead of the December EU Fisheries Council meeting, Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat have called on Ministers to follow scientific advice on the majority of the fishing quotas for 2011.

In an open letter sent out to Ministers ahead of the December EU Fisheries Council meeting, Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat have called on Ministers to follow scientific advice on the majority of the fishing quotas for 2011.

Overall, the Commission proposal is ambitious and would take the EU several steps on the way to more sustainable fisheries. The Commissioner and her services seem to be caught between a sincere wish to adhere to international agreements which the EU has committed to, as well as the objectives set out in the CPF, and a number of Member States focusing more on the short-term fishing opportunities.

We have urged the Council to base their decisions on the following general principles:

• that catch limits are in line with scientific advice;

• that the agreed fishing limits enable the EU to fulfil international binding targets;

• that existing long-term recovery/management plans are followed, when evaluated to be consistent with the precautionary approach.

Specifically, large cuts beyond what is normally stipulated by the management plan are being proposed for cod stocks in the Western waters (Irish Sea, West of Scotland and Kattegat) as a result of their dire status and an apparently ineffective management plan. However, merely reducing the quota will not sufficiently reduce cod mortality as large amounts of cod are also taken by vessels targeting other species. When the annual quota for cod for these fisheries is exhausted, the discarding of cod is likely to increase. Complimentary measures, such as mandatory use of the best available selective gears are needed and the closure of mixed fisheries as soon as one of the quotas is reached.

Cuts are also suggested for a number of other species, such as Southern hake where the management plan is largely considered a failure, nephrops where most stocks show signs of decline, as well as for plaice in the Western English Channel, blue whiting, anglerfish, sharks, skates and rays. The recommendations we have sent out to the EU Fisheries Ministers are backed up by detailed information that can be found in the annexes linked below.


Letter to EU Fisheries Ministers

 

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