This year’s December Council of Minsters has come to a close with agreements on TACs for stocks managed by the EU in the Atlantic, Kattegat and Skagerrak for the coming year, as well as for 2023-24 for deep-sea stocks.
Of the 27 stocks subject to TACs, ten have been set in line with MSY principles and according to the EU Commission, this year’s agreement could for the first time result in a substantial increase in North Sea and Atlantic landings worth an additional €81 compared to the value of this year’s landings.
Concern over Kattegat cod has led to TACs for plaice and langoustine being set at the lower end of the MSY range, with the Council agreeing a 97-tonne allowance for unavoidable catches of cod and additional leeway or vessels operating with real-time camera monitoring.
For the Bay of Biscay and Iberian waters, as proposed by the Commission and within the MSY range, the Council has agreed to a 10% increase of the hake TAC. In addition, the anglerfish TAC is up by 12% and the megrim TAC by 33%. In the Bay of Biscay, there will be a 19% increase of the langoustine TAC.
For horse mackerel in the Iberian waters, a 12% increase has been agreed. For anchovy in the Bay of Biscay, a provisional TAC has been agreed, pending scientific assessment.
The agreement represents a value of €3.5 billion for 187 EU fleet segments with significant fishing activity in the Skagerrak and northeast Atlantic. These fleet segments include 15,635 active vessels and employ 30,800 full-time fishers belonging to 1190 EU fishing communities.
‘I am very pleased that Member States have followed the Commission’s proposal for most stocks. By agreeing to set fishing opportunities in line with the scientific advice from ICES, we continue our efforts to manage our stocks at healthy levels,’ commented Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius.
‘There is still some room for improvement, however, in particular regarding precautionary advice stocks. I also welcome that Council has made progress to address the critical status of eels with a six month closure of marine catches and a total prohibition of recreational fishing.’
Contingency TACs have been set for stocks shared by the EU with Norway and the UK for the first three months of the coming year.
The Commission states that this contingency plan ensures that fishing can continue seamlessly into the new year, if bilateral agreements with the UK and with Norway are not reached before the end of December. The contingency TACs are generally set at 25% of the 2022 TACs. Exceptions include several stocks fished disproportionately at the beginning of the year and some stocks with significant decreases or increases in the scientific advice for 2023.