Mediterranean and Black Seas: Commission proposes fishing opportunities for 2020

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(Oziel Gómez, Unsplash)

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


Today, the Commission has adopted its first ever proposal on fishing opportunities covering both the Mediterranean and the Black Seas.

With this proposal, the Commission is delivering on the political commitments made in the MedFish4Ever and Sofia Declarations to promote sustainable management of fish stocks in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. It reflects the Commission’s efforts and ambition to ensure social and economic viability for the fishermen operating in the region by restoring and maintaining stocks at sustainable levels.

“Throughout my term in office, I have been working to reverse the alarming situation for most fish stocks in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, as part of the EU’s wider commitment to sustainable fisheries. It is a long process but today’s proposal is another important step in the right direction”, said Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

In the Mediterranean Sea, the proposal implements the multiannual management plan for demersal stocks in the western Mediterranean, adopted in June this year. To that end, a reduction of fishing effort is necessary in 2020 for red mullet, hake, deep-water rose shrimp, Norway lobster, blue and red shrimp and giant red shrimp.

The proposal also includes additional measures, in line with the decisions of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM). In particular, it introduces a 3 months closure period for eel, catch and fishing effort limits for small pelagics in the Adriatic and a fishing effort limit for demersals in the Adriatic.

In the Black Sea, the Commission proposes catch limits and quota for turbot and sprat. For turbot, the proposal will transpose the EU quota to be decided in the context of the revision of the GFCM turbot multiannual management plan. For sprat, the Commission proposes to maintain the same catch limit as in 2019, namely 11,475 tonnes.

The Commission proposal will be updated after the GFCM annual session (4-8 November 2019) with the figures of those stocks subject to negotiations within that organisation.

At the December Agriculture and Fisheries Council (16-17 December), Member States will set the fishing opportunities for 2020 on the basis of the Commission proposal.

 

Background

In 2016, 78% of assessed fish stocksin the Mediterranean and Black Seas were exploited outside biological sustainable limits. (FAO, 2018)

To tackle this grave situation, the Commission is promoting multilateral cooperation on fisheries management in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. Enhanced governance has been established following the adoption of the Malta “MedFish4ever” and Sofia Declarations.

The multiannual management plan for demersal stocks in the western Mediterranean adopted in June 2019, introduced a fishing effort regime for trawlers intended to achieve an overall reduction of up to 40% in five years. For the first year of implementation, the plan foresees a reduction of 10% from the baseline established in accordance with the provisions of the plan.

The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) is a regional fisheries management organisation competent for the conservation and management of fish stocks in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. In recent years, the GFCM has adopted an impressive number of conservation, management and control measures at the proposal of the European Union. In 2018, the GFCM adopted a management plan for eel in the Mediterranean Sea and emergency measures for 2019-2021 for small pelagic stocks in the Adriatic Sea. The GFCM is expected to adopt measures regarding demersal stocks in the Adriatic Sea at its annual session in November this year.

In 2017, the GFCM adopted a multiannual management plan for turbot, introducing management and control measures to be implemented for the first time at regional level. The multiannual plan will be reviewed at the GFCM 2019 annual session, where a new quota allocation is expected to be agreed upon by contracting parties.

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