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Fishing opportunities for 2013: improvements for some fish stocks

In a consultation document adopted recently, the European Commission sets out its intentions for fixing fishing opportunities for 2013. Through this annual document the Commission asks for the views of Member States and stakeholders on the setting of Total Allowable Catches (TACs), quotas and fishing effort (days-at-sea) for the following year. The document shows that the Commission's efforts to phase out overfishing are starting to bear fruit. There are now 20 fish stocks in European seas which are known not to be overfished, compared to only 5 stocks in 2009. Reducing TACs in the past years even made it possible to increase some TACs for 2012. This could result in at least €135 million extra income for the fishing industry.

The above figures show that following scientific advice when setting TACs helps fish stocks rebuild. As a result, fishermen are rewarded with higher catches and higher income, and the environmental impact of fishing is less. These figures also show that a reform of the Common Fisheries Policy is necessary in order to apply on a wider scale the methods that have proved to work in the long-term and incorporate them into EU policy-making. Overfishing cannot be phased out through year after year setting of TACs only. Long-term management, a fully science based approach and eliminating catastrophic practices such as discarding are needed, as spelled out in the Commission proposal on CFP reform.

Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki has stated: "We are now seeing some improvements towards ending overfishing, but we need to go the extra mile and adopt the CFP reform if we want to guarantee these improvements in the long term."

The Commission's view is that for next year, for stocks covered by the long-term management plans, TACs and effort levels should be fixed according to the plans in force (a legal requirement). For other fish stocks, not covered by the plans, the TACs should be based on scientific advice, with a goal to phase out overfishing by 2015 - or earlier, wherever possible. Where no advice exists, the precautionary principle should be applied.

The science base for assessing fish stocks is improving. Whereas in 2009 57 stocks subject to TACs in the northeast Atlantic were without scientific advice, a drastic improvement in 2012 to possibly as little as 10 to 12 stocks is expected.

The Commission thereby reaffirms that it is committed to propose fishing levels based on scientific analysis and with the deadline of 2015 for phasing out overfishing, as spelled out in the proposal for reform of the CFP.


The stocks in EU waters in the northeast Atlantic that were assessed as not overfished are:


Off Portugal and Atlantic coast of Spain

Blue whiting

all areas

Common sole

Skagerrak, Kattegat and Baltic Sea

Western Channel

Celtic Sea


North Sea


West of Scotland


North Sea

Celtic Sea

Bothnian Sea

Horse Mackerel

Western area, from Cantabrian Sea to northern North Sea


Off Portugal and Atlantic coast of Spain

Norway Lobster

Skagerrak and Kattegat

North Sea (Fladen Ground)

West of Scotland

Celtic Sea and Irish Sea


North Sea


Eastern Baltic Sea


Northeast Atlantic

For the fish stocks where scientific assessment can be carried out, the state of stocks has improved over the last years. In the northeast Atlantic and nearby seas, overfished stocks fell from 32 out of 34 stocks in 2005 to 18 out of 38 stocks in 2012, i.e. from 94% to 47%. In the Mediterranean, sufficient data exists for 63% of stocks. Out of these, 80% are overfished.

Further details in full consultation document:

Contacts :

Oliver Drewes (+32 2 299 24 21)

Lone Mikkelsen (+32 2 296 05 67)

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