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Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR)

AGRIFISH Council: Ministers decide fishing opportunities for 2021 in the North-East Atlantic and for deep-sea stocks

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On 17 December, the Council agreed on fishing opportunities for 2021 for the fish stocks managed by the EU in the North-East Atlantic, based on a proposal made by the Commission. As regards stocks that will be shared with the UK, The Council also decided as a transition measure to proportionally roll over the 2020 total allowable catches (TACs), with a few limited exceptions, as proposed by the Commission. This will ensure fishing opportunities in the exceptional circumstances surrounding the still ongoing negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. These measures complement the Commission's contingency proposal from last week, which provides for the possibility of reciprocal fishing access by EU and UK vessels to each other's waters, if and when agreed between the EU and the UK, and all conditions for the continuation of the EU fishing operations have been met.

Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “I am very pleased that for the stocks the EU is managing on its own, we have brought eight total allowable catches in line with the levels that guarantee the maximum sustainable yields from those stocks. EU ministers have followed my proposals on the precautionary approach for nine fish catch quotas. This is a step in the right direction. The Commission proposal was very ambitious and I welcome today's overall good outcome. We have also managed to respond to the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and secure continued fishing for all EU fishermen and women. Vessels can take to the sea on 1 January 2021 and the fishing sector can be reassured that their business is recognized as a priority for the EU.”

The Council has also decided on sustainable catch limits for southern seabass (Bay of Biscay) in line with maximum sustainable yield (MSY). The Council has continued the protection of the vulnerable deep-sea sharks through a prohibition of fishing of this species. In line with the Commission proposal, the Council has agreed to set very limited bycatch for cod in Kattegat (123 tonnes), and roundnose grenadier in Skagerrak and Kattegat (5 tonnes), and a scientific TAC for nephrops in the southern Bay of Biscay (2.4 tonnes). More information is available Commissioner Sinkevičius' press statement and online.

Based on the Commission's proposal, EU ministers agreed fishing opportunities for 2021 for the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. Sinkevičius said: “In line with our political commitments made in the MedFish4Ever and Sofia Declarations, we implemented in EU law ambitious measures taken in the context of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM). On the Western Mediterranean multiannual plan, I regret that ministers were not ready to agree on higher effort reductions, which would have allowed us to restore the fish stocks to sustainable levels faster and to ensure the long-term social and economic viability of the fishermen and women operating in the region. I welcome, however, that the effort reduction will be accompanied by additional national measures to protect the stocks."

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For the Mediterranean, the regulation agreed by ministers continues the implementation of the EU multiannual management plan for demersal stocks in the Western Mediterranean, adopted in June 2019, by reducing the fishing effort by 7.5%. The Regulation also introduces measures adopted by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean in 2018 and 2019, in particular measures for eel, red coral, dolphinfish, small pelagic species and demersal stocks in the Adriatic and deep water shrimps stocks in the Ionian Sea, Levant Sea and the Strait of Sicily. For the Black Sea, the quotas for turbot and sprat are maintained at the 2020 level. More information is available Commissioner Sinkevičius' press statement and online.

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