Bottom trawling of up to 70% of seas in Europe closed: few losses for the fishing sector but huge environmental gains
The Commission adopted the communication ” Towards more sustainable fishing in the EU: state of play and guidelines for 2022‘. In accordance with the European Green Agreement objectives, EU fisheries are moving towards more sustainability, supporting the transition to a healthy and environmentally friendly European food system and supporting sustainable sources of income for EU fishermen, the communication shows. The socio-economic performance of the sector remains good, despite the coronavirus crisis, also thanks to the rapid support of the Commission.
The Communication calls for further efforts to protect marine resources, both by maintaining high levels of ambition within the EU and striving to achieve the same high level in working with third countries. Member States, advisory councils, the fishing industry, non-governmental organizations and interested citizens are invited to participate until 31 August in a public consultation and express their views on the fishing possibilities for 2022.
Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “EU fisheries remain on track for even more sustainable use of the sea. And while the pandemic has hit hard hit our fishing communities, it has been confirmed that environmental sustainability is the key to economic resilience. The situation in certain sea basins requires our special attention, but also in all our sea basins, more must be done to deliver the blue of the Green Deal. I count on everyone to fully play their role.
The 2021 communication shows that in the North-East Atlantic in particular, sustainability has almost been achieved for stocks managed under the principle of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) – the maximum amount of fish that fishermen can remove from the sea. sea without compromising the regeneration and future productivity of the stock.
Healthy values have further contributed to the socio-economic performance of the sector, which has thus remained profitable despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fishing activities have been severely affected by the health crisis and the landed value of fish is said to have decreased by 17% last year compared to 2019. The rapid support that the Commission has provided to the sector, in particular by providing 136 million euros of funds under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, helped to quickly cope with the effects of the pandemic.
However, to ensure healthy fish stocks for future generations, efforts must be continued. In the Atlantic and Baltic Sea, the Commission will propose for next year to maintain or further reduce fishing mortality in line with the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for stocks assessed at the MSY and to fully implement plans to management that set MSY mortality ranges. In the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, despite a slight improvement, exploitation rates are still twice as high as sustainable levels. Significant efforts will therefore be made to pursue the implementation of the multiannual plan for the western Mediterranean and the measures adopted by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean. Further improvements in the Adriatic will feature prominently in the fishing opportunities for 2022.
Member States must also strengthen the application and control of compliance with the landing obligation, in particular by using suitable modern control tools, such as remote electronic surveillance systems, which are the most efficient and the most efficient means. more cost effective to control the landing obligation at sea. The Commission will continue to work with the European Parliament and the Council to reach an agreement on the revised fisheries control system, which can facilitate the use of these tools. In addition, fishermen are encouraged to further adopt the use of more innovative and selective gear. the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (FEMAF) can help finance such investments.
In its relations with third countries, the Commission will pursue high levels of alignment on fishing opportunities and related measures with high sustainability standards. This will be essential to ensure sustainable exploitation of resources and to achieve a level playing field for EU industry given the strong interconnections between fleets in the waters concerned. With regard to stocks shared with the UK, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (ACT) provides a solid basis for the sustainable management of shared fish stocks, both during the annual consultations on fishing opportunities and through the specialized fisheries committee.
Each year, the Commission publishes a communication describing the progress made on the situation of fish stocks and launching a broad public consultation on the fixing of the annual fishing opportunities for the following year. This Communication assesses the progress made towards sustainable fishing in the EU and examines the balance between fishing capacity and fishing possibilities, the socio-economic performance of the sector and the implementation of the landing obligation. It also sets out the rationale for the proposal for fishing opportunities for the following year.
Following the consultation, the Commission will present in autumn its proposals for regulations on fishing possibilities for 2022 in the Atlantic, North Sea and Baltic Sea, as well as in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The proposals take into account multi-year plans and are based on scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and other independent bodies, as well as on economic analysis provided by the Scientific, Technical Committee and economical. for fishing (STECF).
The proposals will also incorporate the adjustments resulting from the implementation of the landing obligation. Finally, the Council of Fisheries Ministers of the European Union will discuss the Commission’s proposals and establish the distribution of fishing opportunities.