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Fisheries Policy | 1 December 2020

Linking the law to biological reference points used in scientific advice when setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs)
Fisheries Policy
Wildlife & habitats
Fisheries & Seafood

PDF | 394 kb

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Linking the law to biological reference points used in scientific advice when setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs)

This briefing is for decision-makers at European Union (EU) level setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs) to limit how much fish can be caught to sustainable levels. These include people working at the European Commission (which proposes TACs) and people representing EU Member States at the EU Council (which decides on catch limits).

The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) contains a number of key objectives and requirements that decision-makers have to implement when setting TACs. However, the link between the legal wording and concrete scientific catch figures can be difficult to understand, and different stakeholders often reach different conclusions.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has developed a framework to translate legal requirements into concrete scientific catch advice figures. In order to understand this translation from law into science, we need to get to grips with both the legal wording and the scientific terminology used.

This briefing explains the various biological reference points used by ICES and how they link to the CFP’s rules. This is important background information regarding TAC-setting, and complements ClientEarth’s other briefings on key topics, such as what it means to follow ‘best available scientific advice’ and implement the ‘precautionary approach’ and the ‘ecosystem-based approach’ when setting TACs.

Links: This briefing is part of a series of 8 briefings about some technical, but important key aspects of TAC-setting. The briefing series is designed to help decision-makers set sustainable TACs in line with science and the law.

Setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs) in the context of the Landing Obligation

Let's get the numbers right: What proportion of fish stocks are sustainably managed in the EU?

Ask the right question, get the right answer: Scientific advice for bycatch or non-targeted stocks that have zero catch advice

What is the ‘best available scientific advice’ for setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs)?

Caution! A TAC-Setter’s Guide to the ‘Precautionary Approach’

How (not) to implement the ecosystem-based approach when setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs)

(Lack of) catch documentation under the landing obligation and how exemptions may defeat rather than prove the rule

For an evaluation of the TACs agreed at December Council for 2015-2020 please refer to ClientEarth’s comprehensive report: Taking stock 2020 – are TACs set to achieve MSY?