The European Commission has completed a proposal for the 2023 fishing opportunities in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, adding elements missing from the initial proposal, in particular, fishing opportunities stemming from the outcomes of the 45th annual session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), resulting in an important agreement on the establishment of several multiannual management plans (MAPs).
These include the provisions for the two new MAPs for demersal stocks and deep-water shrimps in the Strait of Sicily, the new MAPs for deep-water shrimps in the Ionian and the Levant Sea, and the new MAP for blackspot seabream in the Alboran Sea.
These mostly focus on the introduction of catch limits for deep water shrimps and blackspot seabream, an effort regime for hake in the Strait of Sicily, as well as a capacity freeze for all the fleets affected by the new MAPs.
The Commission also incorporates into its original proposal the latest GFCM decision for an additional reduction in fishing effort for the Adriatic demersal stocks, subject to the 2019 GFCM MAP.
For the Black Sea, it includes the GFCM decisions to roll-over the total allowable catches (TAC) for turbot, as well as to carry over unused EU turbot quotas from 2021 to 2023.
For the western Mediterranean Sea, as in previous years, the latest scientific advice from both the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) and the GFCM’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) states that, in order to attain the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) targets for demersal stocks, swift action is needed and real reductions in fishing mortality are necessary.
The western Mediterranean MAP set a legal requirement to achieve the objective of sustainable management of fish stocks by 1st January 2025 at the latest. The provisions of the MAP foresee fishing effort decreases, but allow for them to be supplemented with any relevant technical and conservation measures adopted in accordance with Union law and thus to factor in socio-economic considerations.
To secure a reduction in fishing mortality, the Commission proposes to continue the package of measures already in place – reductions in trawl fishing effort, maximum catch limits for deep water shrimps and an effort ceiling for longliners. In addition, the Commission proposes temporal closures for longliners and netters to protect hake during their peak spawning periods.
Based on technical discussions with the Member States and all concerned stakeholders, the Commission proposes to continue the trawling regime flexibility (compensation mechanism) to help strengthen ecosystem resilience by rewarding efficient closure areas, and improved selectivity to protect juveniles.