After a record-breaking 47 hours of debate the Agriculture and Fisheries Council raises the number of fish stocks managed at maximum sustainable yield (MSY) to 53 – 9 more than in 2017.
European Union (EU) fisheries ministers have set the 2018 quotas for the main commercial fish stocks in the Atlantic and the North Sea. Agriculture and Fisheries Council will bring 53 species under limits to maintain maximum sustainable yield (MSY), up from 44 in 2017 according to a press release from the European Commission (EC).
The agreement reached in the early morning of Wednesday (13 December), after a record breaking 47 hours of debate. The negotiations were based on the commission’s proposal for total allowable catch, presented by commissioner Karmenu Vella.
This year’s negotiations were especially tense given the looming – and legally-binding – obligation to stop overfishing for all EU stocks by 2020. During the two-day negotiations, the Council has denied access to three representatives of the fishing industry from the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark who tried to access the Council claiming to be members of the press.
“We are now more than half-way to the 2020 deadline to ensure that all stocks are fished sustainably. With today’s agreement, two-thirds of fish in the Atlantic and the North Sea will be subject to sustainable catch limits next year”, explained EU Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella.
“Today we agreed on fishing opportunities worth over 5 billion euros, benefiting more than 50,000 fishermen. As a result of responsible decisions in the last years, economic performance of the EU fleet has improved considerably and its profits are increasing,” said Siim Kiisler, Estonia’s environment minister.
“Today EU fisheries ministers have made some progress by putting more stocks on the path to sustainability and increasing the number of stocks exploited at sustainable levels”, also praised Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of NGO Oceana in Europe.
Not everybody was equally enthusiastic, though. BirdWatch Ireland’s fisheries policy expert, Fintan Kelly warned the EU was at “a critical turning point.” He was in Brussels to monitor the negotiations. “The pace of progress is still too slow to ensure legal compliance with the 2020 deadline of the Common Fisheries Policy to end overfishing.”