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Updated fisheries measures in the North-East Atlantic: green light from EU member states' representatives

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EU member states' representatives greenlight an agreement reached between the Council's and the Parliament's negotiators on updated fisheries measures in the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) area.

Once formally adopted, the regulation will implement into EU law new rules on management, conservation and control for the NEAFC area, as well as control measures for certain pelagic species in the North-East Atlantic agreed during coastal states consultations. The text will also bring together in one single regulation all the NEAFC measures currently covered by different regulations.

"Numerous member states are active in the NEAFC area. The transposition of these fisheries measures is therefore important and will help streamline our cooperation with international partners, as well as ensure the sustainability of the fisheries sector in the North-East Atlantic."
Hilde Crevits, Belgian Flemish Minister for Welfare, Public Health and the Family, and competent for Fisheries

Main elements of the update

The new NEAFC measures to be transposed by the regulation include changes to improve the control of transhipment operations at sea, as well as rules on waste from vessels and the retrieval of lost gear.

With the overarching goal of improving the sustainability of fisheries, 22 species will be added to the list of species for which discarding catches is prohibited, including cod, common sole and plaice.

In order to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems, such as deep-sea corals and sponges, the regulation extends the ban on bottom fishing in certain areas until the end of 2027.

In addition, the regulation covers the implementation of certain control measures related to four pelagic fisheries in the North-East Atlantic, namely mackerel, horse mackerel, blue whiting and herring. These measures have been agreed on by the EU, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and the UK in coastal states consultations.

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One of these measures requires the use of camera and sensor technology for monitoring at landing and processing facilities, if a landing exceeds 10 tonnes and if more than 3 000 tonnes of those pelagic species are weighed per year.

Next steps

The text will now undergo a legal and linguistic check before its formal adoption by the Council and the Parliament and subsequent entry into force.

Background

NEAFC is the regional fisheries management organisation responsible for managing the fisheries resources covered by the 'Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the North-East Atlantic'. Measures adopted by NEAFC are binding on its contracting parties, including the EU, except in the case of objections.

On 30 June 2023, the European Commission (Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius) published its proposal to implement into EU law the most recent NEAFC recommendations that are not already covered by existing EU legislation.

Negotiations between the Council and the Parliament took place at technical level in January and February 2024 and resulted in the text endorsed today by EU member states representatives (Coreper). The European Parliament's rapporteur for this file is Francisco Guerreiro (Verts/ALE).

Final compromise text

Commission proposal

International agreements on fisheries (background information)

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