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Photo: EU Council

Updated fisheries measures in the ICCAT area: Council gives final green light

EUROPEAN UNION
Thursday, February 29, 2024, 01:00 (GMT + 9)

The Council has formally adopted a regulation that transposes into EU law certain fisheries management, conservation and control measures in the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) convention area.

The newly-adopted regulation also updates the multiannual management plan for bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

The fisheries sector is essential for the sustainability of our seas and oceans and it also plays a key role in ensuring food security and the profitability of our industry. The updated rules adopted today will pave the way to ensuring that important decisions made in international fora are fully part of EU law.

Hilde Crevits – Belgian Flemish Minister for Welfare, Public Health and the Family, and competent for Fisheries

The adopted regulation implements into EU law a series of recommendations adopted by ICCAT at its annual meetings from the past few years. Those concern amendments to regulation (EU) 2017/2107 and regulation (EU) 2023/2053.

Main elements of the update

Some of the newly updated rules concern:

  • definitions of support vessels, fish aggregating devices (FADs), floating objects, and operational buoy
  • in the case of tropical tuna: capacity limitations and the prohibition of discards by purse seiners (except for certain circumstances); this means that by 31 January of each year, member states will have to prepare annual fishing plans and annual fishing capacity management plans for tropical tuna; additionally, every three months, member states will have to communicate to the Commission information on the quantity of tropical tunas (by species) caught by vessels carrying their flag
  • in the case of bluefin tuna: updated provisions on the carry-over of non-harvested live bluefin tuna from previous years’ catches, recreational fisheries quota provisions; updated rules for the preparation of an annual monitoring, control, and inspection plan; prohibition of the automatic carry-over of any unused quota
  • authorization and reporting: member states shall issue fishing authorizations to large-scale catching vessels flying their flag to fish North and Southern Atlantic albacore; moreover, South Atlantic albacore catches must be reported to ICCAT by member states
  • recreational fisheries provisions for Mediterranean albacore
  • provisions for the safe handling and recommended release practices for sea turtles and shortfin mako sharks
  • data collection and reporting to ICCAT in the case of certain catches, to help assess the situation of stocks
  • updated rules for the use and operational handling of vessel monitoring systems
  • provisions on improving health and safety rules for ICCAT observers for transshipment at sea

Next steps

Today's vote by the Council closes the adoption procedure. The regulation will now be signed by the Council and the European Parliament. It will then be published in the EU's Official Journal and enter into force 20 days later.

ICCAT - International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas - CICAA - Comisión Internacional para la Conservación del Atún Atlántico

Background

ICCAT provides for a framework of regional cooperation on the conservation and management of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and the adjacent seas. The European Union has been a contracting party since 1997.

ICCAT has the authority to adopt recommendations for the conservation and management of the fisheries under its responsibility. These are binding for the contracting parties and become effective six months after the date of the notification.

The proposal to implement into EU law a series of ICCAT recommendations was put forward by the Commission (Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius) on 21 April 2022. The European Parliament's rapporteur for this file was Clara Aguilera (S&D, ES).

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