In advance of the December Fisheries Council meeting and where fishing limits for 2013 will be set, SAR and FISH are calling on EU Fisheries Ministers to follow scientific advice and set limits that enable the EU to rebuild fish stocks to sustainable levels.

In advance of the December Fisheries Council meeting and where fishing limits for 2013 will be set, SAR and FISH are calling on EU Fisheries Ministers to follow scientific advice and set limits that enable the EU to rebuild fish stocks to sustainable levels.

The annual quota talks are vitally important if the EU is to stop overfishing and restore fish stocks. Although an increasing amount of fish stocks are recovering, the EU will not be able to achieve its international commitment to restore fish stocks above levels that can produce Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) by 2015. To avoid further delay in the restoration of fish stocks, it is necessary to adjust fishing limits in 2013 to MSY levels, which will eventually result in sustainable biomass levels.

At the meeting, the Ministers will discuss the proposal of the European Commission for fishing opportunities in 2013. The proposal is based on management plans, where these exist, and largely follows scientific advice for stocks where advice is provided. For the first time it also incorporates quantitative advice for data-limited stocks, which has allowed for an increase in the number of stocks where proposals for fishing limits can be based on scientific advice.

In an open letter sent to EU Fisheries Ministers earlier this month, Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat stated their general support to the Commission’s proposal. The groups urged EU states to improve the data availability of stocks in general and in particular for certain stocks such as southern hake and nephrops, and to align EU fisheries management areas with ICES assessment areas.

In addition SAR and FISH are calling on the Council to close fisheries targeting cod in several areas and adopt complimentary measures to reduce the high levels of bycatch of juvenile cod, such as the mandatory use of the best available selective gears, real time closures, and closures of mixed fisheries as soon as one of the TACs has been exhausted. They also provide specific recommendations for haddock, anglerfish, sole, southern hake, and nephrops.

Healthy fish stocks help prevent biodiversity loss and result in higher and more consistent catches at a lower cost. Restoring and maintaining fish stocks to MSY would therefore improve employment in fisheries and related industries. A recent study found that restoring 43 European stocks to levels that can produce MSY would generate 3.53 million tonnes of additional landings and could support around 100,000 new jobs. The commitment to restore fish stocks to levels that can produce MSY by 2015 was agreed at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, and was re-iterated at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on sustainable development in 2012.

 

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