Sea Bass Fishing

Question

In March 2015, a 3-bass bag limit was imposed on recreational fishermen. Further restrictions introduced this year stipulated no retention of bass during the first half of the year, and only one bass per day in the second half of the year.

By contrast, the Council decided — contrary to the Commission’s proposed moratorium — that during the first half of 2016 commercial fishing vessels using hooks, lines and fixed gillnets only need to stop fishing for bass in February and March. For the rest of the year (the ten months in which the commercial fleet concentrates its effort), these boats are allowed to catch up to 1 300 kg bass/month — more than what most have ever caught in the past. In reality, most of these vessels will not be affected at all by the limit, while recreational angling, its dependent high-value-added businesses and thousands of jobs are affected.

The Council is asked to explain why it could not agree to the Commission proposal that a six-month moratorium should apply to all fishing sectors?

Answer

At its meeting of 14 December 2015, the Council reached unanimous political agreement on Regulation 2016/72 fixing fishing opportunities for 2016.*

Fishing opportunities were set under the rules of the revised Common Fisheries Policy, which emphasises the role of the ‘best available scientific advice’. In this framework, the aforementioned Regulation took into account the advice provided by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) and by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), while also considering socioeconomic aspects.

*Council Regulation (EU) 2016/72 of 22 January 2016 fixing for 2016 the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, applicable in Union waters and, for Union fishing vessels, in certain non-Union waters, and amending Regulation (EU) 2015/104 (OJ L 22 of 28/01/2016, p.1).

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