3 December 2020
Every winter, EU fisheries ministers set fishing limits for the year ahead – a decision critical for ensuring sustainable fisheries management. But despite the EU’s legal deadline to end overfishing by 2020 and restore fish stocks above healthy and productive levels, many limits are set above advice put forward by scientists. This failure to follow the science and to set sustainable fishing limits means many stocks are still struggling and the EU continues to fall short of its goal to end overfishing.
To achieve the EU’s sustainability goals, fishing limits must be set in line with the law and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)’s scientific advice on sustainable catch levels.
However, if science and the law are the boundaries within which fishing limits should be set, then why are they so often not respected?
One reason may be because there are several key concepts decision-makers need to grapple with when setting fishing limits (or ‘Total Allowable Catches’ (TACs)), which are technical in nature and complex when considered alongside other environmental and scientific issues.
To help decision-makers and stakeholders better understand how these concepts should be applied in practice when setting sustainable fishing limits, we have broken them down into a series of clear and digestible briefings.
The first four briefings explain the key concepts referred to in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) – the main law regulating EU fisheries – and in the ICES advice:
To put the above concepts into practice, the remaining briefings cover a range of key issues that need to be considered in light of the EU discard ban (or “landing obligation”) and the dire state some stocks are in: