European Union institutions came to an agreement Wednesday (16 March) to implement a multi-year fisheries plan for the Baltic Sea: the first of its kind since the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was reformed.
However, the plan’s actual promotion of sustainability has already been questioned.
The deal, which has been ten months in the making, will, according to a European Parliament statement, “ensure the sustainability of fish stocks and will offer better economic conditions long-term to the fishing industry”.
One of the crucial points of the agreement, reached between the Parliament and Council of Ministers, is the inclusion of a multi-species strategy, rather than individual management of fish types, which according to the Parliament will “be much more efficient”.
The legislature’s statement stressed that the plan would ensure “sustainable and balanced exploitation” of cod, herring and sprat and that it would ensure stable livelihoods for fishermen.
Another feature of the agreement is that it introduces the use of scientific data on mortality rates to determine Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and fishing quotas, which are a joint competence of the Council of Ministers and of the Parliament, with the aim of making the fishing industry sustainable.
However, the agreement was criticised by conservation groups for prioritising jobs and economic considerations over actual environmental concerns.
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“The Fisheries Ministers of the European member states have yet again proved that EU conservation law exists on paper only by choosing to continue ignoring the obligation to manage our fish stocks sustainably,” explained Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe.
The European Commission will now be able to intervene if there are any threats to plaice, sole and turbots stocks, if scientific data backs their position. Its fisheries chief, Commissioner Karmenu Vella, said that he was “pleased that the member states and European Parliament have reached an agreement”.
The plan must now wait for final approval from the European Parliament’s fishery committee and be ratified by the European Council.
This article was also published by euroefe.