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Photo courtesy from Oceans and fisheries - European Commission

Sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean and Black Seas: New updates to 2023 fishing opportunities proposal

EUROPEAN UNION
Friday, November 25, 2022, 07:00 (GMT + 9)

Today, the European Commission completed its proposal for the 2023 fishing opportunities in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, adopted on 14 October 2022.   

It added the elements missing from the initial proposal, in particular, fishing opportunities stemming from the outcomes of the 45th annual session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)and elements for the implementation of the western Mediterranean multi-annual management plan (West Med MAP).

These updates are based on the latest scientific advice and reflect the Commission's ambition to achieve sustainable fisheries and thriving ecosystems in these two sea basins, in line with the legal obligations under the common fisheries policy(CFP) and international commitments reflected in the GFCM 2030 Strategy.

Photo courtesy from FAO

New measures agreed at the GFCM Annual Meeting

The GFCM Annual Meeting earlier this month resulted in an important agreement on the establishment of several multiannual management plans (MAPs). As a result, the Commission now adds new elements to the fishing opportunities for several sub-regions of the Mediterranean Sea.

These include the provisions for the two new MAPs for demersal stocks and deep-water shrimps in the Strait of Sicily, the new MAPs for deep-water shrimps in the Ionian and the Levant Sea, and the new MAP for blackspot seabream in the Alboran Sea. They mostly focus on the introduction of catch limits for deep-water shrimps and blackspot seabream, an effort regime for hake in the Strait of Sicily, as well as a capacity freeze for all the fleets affected by the new MAPs.

The Commission also incorporates into its original proposal the latest GFCM decision for an additional reduction in fishing effort for the Adriatic demersal stocks, subject to the 2019 GFCM MAP.

Photo courtesy from FAO

Finally, for the Black Sea, it includes the GFCM decisions to roll-over the total allowable catches (TAC) for turbot, as well as to carry-over the unused EU turbot quotas from 2021 to 2023.

Implementation of the western Mediterranean multiannual management plan

For the western Mediterranean Sea, as in previous years, the latest scientific advice from both the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) and the GFCM’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) states that, in order to attain the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) targets for demersal stocks, swift action is needed and real reductions in fishing mortality are necessary.

The western Mediterranean MAP set a legal requirement to achieve the objective of sustainable management of fish stocks by 1 January 2025 at the latest. This means that there are only two years left to comply with this legal obligation. The provisions of the MAP foresee fishing effort decreases, but allow for them to be supplemented with any relevant technical and conservation measures adopted in accordance with Union law and thus to factor in socio-economic considerations.

Photo courtesy from FAO

To secure a reduction in fishing mortality, the Commission proposes to continue the package of measures already in place: reductions of the trawling fishing effort, maximum catch limits for deep-water shrimps and the effort ceiling for longliners. In addition, the Commission proposes temporal closures for longlines and netters to protect hake spawners during their peak spawning periods. The package approach allows to distribute management measures on different gears and to share the burden,

Finally, based on technical discussions with the Member States and all concerned stakeholders, the Commission proposes to continue the trawling regime flexibility (compensation mechanism) to help strengthen ecosystem resilience by rewarding efficient closure areas, and improved selectivity to protect juveniles.

Photo courtesy from FAO

Next steps

EU fisheries ministers are expected to discuss the Commission's proposal on 12–13 December and establish the allocation of fishing opportunities. The regulation should apply as of 1 January 2023. 

Source: Oceans and fisheries - European Commission

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