MEPs back first EU management plan for fish stocks in the Western Mediterranean

Fish stocks

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


A plan to manage fishing efforts and preserve stocks in the Western Mediterranean Sea for demersal species was approved by MEPs on Thursday.

The new plan covering demersal fish stocks, such as shrimps and Norway lobsters, aims to ensure that stocks can be exploited while maintaining their reproductive capacity. It should be evaluated after the first 5 years and every 3 years thereafter. The text was agreed by 461 votes to 62, with 101 abstentions. It has already been informally agreed with EU ministers.

 

In the first year of the plan being implemented (2020), the maximum fishing effort should be reduced by 10% as compared to the fishing days allowed between 2012 and 2017. During the next four years, the maximum fishing effort shall be reduced by 30%.

 

The text also requests that the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) regulation be amended, so that fleet segments covered by the new rules should be able to benefit from compensation in case of a permanent stop of fishing activities.

 

The agreed rules will:

  • Apply to commercial and recreational fisheries as well as fish caught unintentionally (by-catch stock);
  • Implement co-management fisheries regimes between member states, local fisheries and other stakeholders;
  • Facilitate the implementation of the landing obligation;
  • Limit recreational fisheries when their impact on fishing mortality is too high;
  • Limit fishing to a maximum of 15 hours per fishing day (or 18 hours taking into account the transit time between port and the fishing ground).

 

Limit the use of trawls in coastal areas

 

MEPs approved a ban on the use of trawls within 6 nautical miles from the coast, except in areas deeper than the 100 m isobath during three months each year. Each member state will determine those three months of annual closure, according to the best available scientific advice to ensure at least a 20% reduction of catches of juvenile hake.

 

Next steps

 

Following final adoption by the Council, the new rules will apply on the twentieth day after their publication on the Official Journal of the European Union (end of 2019).

 

Background

 

This multi-annual plan is the fourth proposal adopted in line with the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) after the Baltic Sea, North Sea and Western Waters. The plan covers the western Mediterranean waters along the northern Alboran Sea, the Gulf of Lion and the Tyrrhenian Sea, including the Balearic Islands, Corsica and Sardinia. According to 2015 data, the fishing fleet concerned consists of almost 10.900 vessels from Italy (50%), Spain (39%) and France (11%). Demersal stocks in this area are six fish and crustacean species: blue and red shrimp, deep-water rose shrimp, giant red shrimp, European hake, Norway lobster and red mullet.

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