Leading Journal of the Irish & UK Fishing Industries

The Commission has published its yearly Communication outlining progress on the management of fish stocks in the EU and launching a public consultation on the fixing of fishing opportunities for next year, inviting Member States, Advisory Councils, the fishing industry, nongovernmental organisations, and interested citizens to take part and express their views

Based on 2018 data, this year’s edition, “Towards more sustainable fishing in the EU: state of play and orientations for 2021”, shows progress in achieving the goal of environmentally sustainable and economically viable fisheries.

The 2020 Communication indicates fishing in the Northeast Atlantic has steadily become more sustainable resulting in a more abundant stock. The economic performance of the EU fleet continued to be very good, with a net profit of around €1.4 billion and an average net profit margin of 18% in 2018.

The salaries of those who fish also continued to increase. However, despite significant improvements, challenges remain. While similar economic performance is expected to be confirmed for 2019, the projections for 2020 remain highly uncertain due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

For the Mediterranean and Black Seas, says the Commission, vigorous conservation efforts must continue, and in the Atlantic sea basins, some stocks continue to be overfished or remain outside safe biological limits.

In the second year of its full application, implementation of the landing obligation remains a concern. Here, the Commission says, Member States need to step up enforcement and control of compliance, in particular by using control tools, such as remote electronic monitoring systems.

The Commission, it says, will continue to work with the European Parliament and Council to reach an agreement on the revised fisheries control system, which will facilitate the use of these tools.

The main objective of the Commission’s proposals for fishing opportunities in 2021 will be to maintain or reach a level of fishing that allows for maximized, but sustainable harvesting from the stocks.

Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, responsible for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: “The first months of this year have been extremely challenging for the fisheries sector, but we have supported them across the EU.

“Sustainable fisheries, delivered through the Common Fisheries Policy, are necessary for increasing resilience and delivering the European Green Deal, in particular the recent Farm-to-Fork and EU Biodiversity Strategies.

“Fisheries management in the EU has brought us good news – we now have 50% more fish in the North East Atlantic seas than in 2003. Figures also show that the large fleet segments have become very profitable over the last years and bring increases in salaries.

“Challenges, however, remain, for example, we need to intensify our efforts to eliminate discards. I am counting on everyone to make an effort – Members States, industry and stakeholders. We must deliver what we have set out to achieve.”

Feedback on the policy orientations set out in the Communication, which can be accessed here, can be provided to the Commission until August 31st.