Fisheries management review: less overfishing, but more efforts to protect marine resources needed – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology

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Today the Commission published its communication “Towards more sustainable fishing in the EU: state of play and orientations for 2023”, which takes an annual stocktaking of fisheries management in the EU and defines the priorities to be come for 2023. The figures, as assessed by independent scientific agencies, show that conservation efforts are still bearing fruit and that EU fisheries policy has reduced overfishing in European waters. At the same time, further efforts are still needed to protect marine resources, both by maintaining high levels of ambition within the EU and by striving to achieve the same high level of work with non-EU countries, such as Norway, UK and coastal countries. States.

Stocks in areas of the Northeast Atlantic are, on average, at levels that provide the highest sustainable yields in the future (referred to as “maximum sustainable yield” or MSY). For the Mediterranean, the situation has improved even more, but there is still a long way to go. In the Baltic Sea, due to eutrophication, low oxygen levels in the water hinder the normal growth and reproduction of fish and protective measures have been put in place.

Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkeviciussaid: “After many years of work, we are seeing positive trends: more fish in the sea reaching maturity, less fuel used when catching and techniques used with less environmental impact. Fishermen and women, and especially the younger generation, are now more aware and willing to follow scientific advice regarding both the amount of catches and the sensitive species that need to be protected. We need to continue our efforts in all areas, but especially in the Baltic and the Mediterranean, and need to better protect sensitive species and habitats, because in the long term this will bring us all more fish on the table and communities prosperous fisheries. I count on the support of industry and Member States to achieve this.”

Setting priorities for 2023

In today’s communication, the Commission presented its program for next year:

• Better fisheries management in the Mediterranean basin, building on the achievements in the Western Mediterranean and the Adriatic Sea;

• Correct implementation of the landing obligation;

• Better survey data to improve scientific advice and economic analyses;

• More actions to protect marine ecosystems.

In the Mediterranean Sea, where fishing intensity exceeds sustainable levels by almost 100%, further reductions are needed. Significant efforts will 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. Improved conservation measures for the Adriatic Sea, to reduce fishing intensity and increase long-term yields, will feature prominently in the 2023 fishing opportunities.

In line with the priorities set for 2023, Member States will have to strengthen the application and control of compliance with the landing obligation and eliminate discards by avoiding unwanted catches. In particular, they should use appropriate modern control tools, such as electronic remote monitoring systems, which are the most efficient and cost-effective means of controlling 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.

The Commission will also continue its efforts to achieve sustainability objectives in all areas, including in partnership with neighboring states and in cooperation with international fisheries management organisations, and will soon publish an action plan to conserve resources fisheries and protect marine ecosystems.

War in Ukraine: Cost of EU-27 fishing fleet could cut profits by €300m

The past few months have been very difficult for EU fisheries. Marine fuel prices nearly doubled following Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, which disrupted fishing activity. Fisheries close to Ukraine had to cease their activities for safety reasons. High operating costs have led some operators to stay in port. Provisional figures suggest that if energy prices remain at current levels, the EU fishing fleet would lose an overall €300 million in operating profit in 2022.

The EU facilitated the use of crisis aid under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFF) and adopted a temporary crisis framework for state aid to support fishing, aquaculture and processing sectors. An additional support package has been proposed by the Commission through an amendment to the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), which is now submitted to the European Parliament and the Council for approval.

Next steps

Member States, Advisory Councils, the fishing industry, non-governmental organizations and interested citizens will be invited to take part in a public consultation between June and the end of August and express their views on the fishing opportunities for 2023 .

After the consultation, the Commission will present its proposals for regulations on fishing opportunities for 2023 in the Atlantic, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, as well as the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. The proposals take into account multi-annual 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 economic analysis provided by the Scientific, Technical Committee and economical. for fishing (CSTEP).

The proposals will also incorporate adjustments resulting from the implementation of the landing obligation. Finally, the Council will discuss the Commission’s proposals and establish the allocation of fishing opportunities.


Each year, the Commission publishes a communication describing the state of progress of the situation of fish stocks and launching a wide public consultation on the setting of annual fishing opportunities for the following year. This Communication assesses the progress made by the EU towards sustainable fishing and reviews the balance between fishing capacity and fishing opportunities, the socio-economic performance of the sector and the implementation of the obligation to landing. It also sets out the justification for the fishing opportunities proposal for the following year.

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