I presented yesterday to EU Ministers the Commission’s views on what quantities should be allowed to be fished in 2013 for main commercial fish stocks.
First, referring to the last year’s decisions, we have already seen the proof that sustainability pays off: reaching sustainable exploitation levels can bring short term-benefits. Until the end of 2012 we will give135 millions of Euros to our Atlantic fishermen because of quotas increases.
This year the news are better: We have increased the number of EU stocks fished at Maximum Sustainable Yield last year from 13 to 19 for now. The situation is improving. For example, for sprat in the Baltic Sea I will propose an increase in TAC from 242 000 to 278 000 for 2013. Other stocks with good news are cod and sole in the Celtic Sea, sole in the Western Channel, herring in the Irish Sea, and a spectacularly good Norway Lobster in the West of Scotland. These stocks can bring increases worth well over 23 million Euros, just on their own. And this figure will increase once we get the rest of the advice for the large pelagics in autumn. Of course there are still a lot of stocks to take care of.
Second, we can witness a great improvement in scientific advice: the new methodology followed by our scientists concerning data poor stocks tries to make up for the data gap by taking whatever information is available from various sources. Implementing this principle this year we are going to have scientific advice for 88% of the stocks. Last year we only had it for 33%. The difference is huge. This scientific advice is based on a sound approach and I believe that we should accept it as a package and avoid going back to cherry picking the bits that are positive for some stocks and national interests and selectively ignoring the advice that recommends catch cuts..
So, let’s continue our effort towards sustainability. Let’s continue this path: our proposal this year is to follow scientific advice to reach Maximum Sustainable Yield as soon as possible. And this should become the rule: the reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy offers the opportunity to enshrine the Maximum Sustainable Yield concept, with a precise timetable and a deadline as close as possible. An opportunity that we shouldn’t miss.