Ministers have reached an agreement on fishing rights in the Atlantic, the North Sea, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea for 2022. The deal, concluded today at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting, sets out the catch limits for over 200 commercial fish stocks.
As consultations with the UK on shared fish stocks are ongoing, provisional catch limits will be applied to the species concerned for the first three months of 2022, pending final agreement. These have been set at 25% of last year’s limits for most species, taking into account the specificities of seasonal fisheries.
Today’s agreement is the result of hard work and good will on all sides. It will allow us to maintain fish stocks at sustainable levels while also protecting the livelihoods of European fishing fleets.
Atlantic and North Sea
The following changes have been made to total allowable catches (TACs) that the EU manages autonomously:
- the TAC for sole has been reduced by 36% in the northern and central Bay of Biscay sea areas, and rolled over in the West of Ireland and Porcupine Bank
- the TACs for pollock in the Bay of Biscay and Portuguese waters have also been rolled over
- the TAC for southern hake has been reduced by 8%
- the ban on targeted cod fishing has been maintained, with the TAC for cod bycatches in Kattegat being reduced by 21% (special provisions apply to vessels participating in trials on remote electronic monitoring)
- the TAC for Norway lobster in functional unit 31 has increased by 2000%
Other key features of the proposal include:
- a rollover of measures for European eel, with a three-month closure, enabling consultations with member states and stakeholders to take place on the best way to manage this stock in response to worrying scientific advice
- measures aimed at protecting the declining cod stock in the Celtic Sea while also enabling EU vessels to continue fishing for species whose numbers are on the rise, such as whiting
Mediterranean and Black Sea
The Council agreed to reduce fishing effort for demersal stocks in the western Mediterranean by 6%, in line with the EU’s legal obligation to attain the maximum sustainable yield for this species by 2025. The reduction will apply to trawlers; for longliners, the maximum fishing effort will be based on the number of fishing days between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2017. Ministers also agreed to introduce maximum catch limits for stocks of red shrimp, blue shrimp and red giant shrimp.
In the Black Sea, the Council transposed the EU quota for turbot established under the revised multiannual management plan, and maintained the catch limits for sprat set the previous year.
In December each year the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meets to set the following year’s catch limits – also known as total allowed catches (TACs) – for most commercial fish stocks, along with national quotas for each species. The stocks concerned are those the EU manages on its own, jointly with neighbouring non-EU countries, or via agreements reached under the regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs). Until 2020, fishing opportunities in the Mediterranean and Black seas were dealt with as part of the overall agreement on EU and non-EU waters; since 2020 they have formed the subject of a separate regulation.
The Council’s decision is based on a proposal drawn up by the European Commission, taking into account the best available scientific advice, the aims of the common fisheries policy (CFP) and the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) set for each species.
The regulations will be finalised by the Council’s legal and linguistic experts, following which they will be formally adopted by written procedure in the Council at an upcoming meeting and published in the Official Journal. The provisions will apply retroactively as of 1 January 2022.