The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of December 2013 took place in Brussels on 16-17 December 2013.
The Council discussed and reached agreement on fishing opportunities for 2014 for the main commercial fish stocks of the Atlantic, the North Sea and the Black Sea.
Over two days of negotiations, the Council reached a compromise on several important points.
In 2013 25 stocks were fished at MSY in North Sea and Atlantic. With the quotas decided during this Council the number of stocks fished at MSY can be increased by another two stocks, namely nephrops west of Scotland and in the North Sea. This brings up to 27 MSY level stocks in 2014. Also, more MSY level stocks can be reached by 2015, namely western horse mackerel, plaice in the Channel and sole in the Kattegat and Skagerrak. 30 stocks could reach MSY level in 2015.
The long-term plan has been implemented on all of the 9 fisheries concerned and foreseen quotas have been set up. These measures also contribute to implementing the reform.
Since negotiations are still ongoing with Norway there are many stocks for which this Council has set preliminary quotas so that fishermen can continue fishing cod, mackerel, blue whiting and many other stocks in early 2014.
Another good news concerns data poor stocks which have moved from 51 stocks in 2011 to 13 stocks in 2012 and further down to 12 stocks in 2013.
Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki stated during the press conference following the meeting: “I am pleased because Member States are implementing the reform in advance this year. Ministers have shown that they are willing to implement the reform; the Council has taken the right decisions on implementing MSY, on following long term plans and on moving towards the discard ban. We have done it. From this year we can already say that the new fisheries policy is there.”