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  1. #371
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    EuropÍche delivers warning on North Sea MAP proposals

    http://fiskerforum.dk/en/news/b/euro...-map-proposals

    With the North Sea MAP about to be discussed by the European PECH Committee, EuropÍche has welcomed the proposal for a multiannual plan to manage demersal species, but is less than satisfied with the proposed measures.

    ‘EuropÍche welcomes the European Commission legislative proposal aimed at providing a solid multiannual plan to manage demersal species (i.e. species living close to the sea bottom) in the North Sea,’ a EuropÍche spokesman said.

    ‘However, we are generally dissatisfied with the proposed measures,’ he said, commenting that while the plan should aim to respond to the challenges from the landing obligation and to tackle the complexities of mixed fisheries, but fails to do this.

    ‘Mixed fisheries represent a particular challenge since the stocks are characterised by numerous interactions and unexpected population trends; not easily predictable with the current scientific instruments available,” EuropÍche stated.

    ‘Scientific institutes lack the resources, both financially and staff-wise to build models covering the mixed fisheries.’

    EuropÍche argues that the Council position is much closer to reality, since so far it proposes to thoroughly manage the main target species (MSY) while monitoring the sustainable harvesting of non-target species (precautionary approach).

    ‘Governing by-catch and minor species under more stringent TACs would certainly accentuate the choke species problem. Furthermore, the introduction of target value ranges instead of point targets is also a big step forward,’ EuropÍche’s spokesman said.

    ‘However, we criticise the artificial split of the ranges which is not scientifically justifiable. A range is a range, valid from the lower beginning until the upper end. Finally, in the context of the landing obligation, the plan should be reviewed more frequently than is proposed to ensure its smooth running.’

    Source: EuropÍche

  2. #372
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    Europe’s fisheries and policies success is no coincidence

    http://fiskerforum.dk/en/news/b/euro...no-coincidence

    The European Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) has recently published its annual report on the performance of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as regards the progress on the situation of the fish stocks and exploitation levels.

    According to EuropÍche, decades of self-sacrifice is returning Europe’s fisheries to greatness, since the report clearly shows that status of stocks is improving significantly. It also reflects an overall downward trend in the fishing pressure.

    ‘Additional efforts are still needed, particularly in the Mediterranean,’ EuropÍche comments on the report by STECF, the European Commission's scientific body which provides independent scientific advice and supports the implementation of the CFP.

    STECF’s data enables policy-makers to build their decisions on robust and sound knowledge about the level of exploitation that fish stocks can sustain as well as effects of fishing on marine ecosystems.

    STECF report provides evidence of positive trends in many fish stocks across Europe. For instance, when stating that among the almost 70 stocks fully assessed, the proportion of overexploited stocks decreased from more than 70% to close to 40% over the last ten years. In addition, the report points out that the proportion of the assessed stocks outside the safe biological limits follows the same decreasing trend, from 65% in 2003 to 38% in 2015.

    Concerning the exploitation rates of fish stocks, the STECF report also brings good news since around half of the stocks assessed have reached sustainable levels, in line with the objectives set in the CFP, well before the given 2020 deadline given. As regards the trend in biomass, the report shows improvement in all EU waters, with the exception of the Mediterranean and Black sea. For the fully assessed stocks, the biomass ratio in 2015 is around 35% higher than in 2003.

    ‘Many stocks in Europe have recovered and currently delivering sustainable catches,’ said EuropÍche President Javier Garat.

    ‘This is not a coincidence or a fortunate accident; it came at the expense of the many efforts made by the fishing industry, which respected stringent TACs and suffered a strong reduction of fleets. Just to give an example, despite the enlargements of the EU, the number of EU vessels in 2015 was 85,154; which is 18,693 fewer than in 1996. We welcome that these sacrifices are paying off and result in higher catches, better economic performance and reduction of fuel consumption. We are not complacent though, the fishing sector looks forward to continuing its close collaboration with scientists, governments and the European Commission to increase the number of fish stocks at sustainable levels, improve knowledge on data deficient stocks, minimise any possible impact on the environment and operate within the limits set in the CFP,’ he said, but added a word of warning regarding the Mediterranean.

    ‘As far as the Mediterranean is concerned, while acknowledging the delicate state of the stocks, the fishing sector has taken the lead on the recovery of the Mediterranean together with the EU, scientific community and governments. The spectacular recovery of bluefin tuna, whose quota has been increased by 20% every year, is an illustrative example of the high potential for recovery.’

    ‘The STECF report shows the very good status of most of our target stocks,’ said EAPO President Pim Visser, commenting on the graphs supplied as part of the STECF report.

    ‘Numerous successful stories are found in many fisheries in the north-east Atlantic. The fisheries of many of these stocks are certified under the MSC standard which in itself is proof of the healthy status and the sound management of these stocks. A very remarkable example is the Plaice in the North Sea, also MSC certified, which counts with the highest level of biomass ever reported (226.008 tonnes in 2002 compared to 945.709 tonnes in 2016). The report also shows the need to improve factual knowledge of high quality on stocks which have not been studied in detail so far. In this day and age, proxy approaches of limited quality no longer suffice.’

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    Source: EuropÍche

  3. #373
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  4. #374
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    Landmark meeting on skates and rays

    http://fiskerforum.dk/en/news/b/land...kates-and-rays

    A meeting of stakeholders, scientists and policy officials organised by the Commission to discuss alternative ways of managing the skates and ray stocks was held recently in Brussels. According to the NFFO, the very fact that such a meeting took place, and at the request of the member states, is significant.

    ‘This suggests that there is now general recognition that the current arrangement serves neither the industry, eager to harvest abundant species, like thornback or undulate ray, nor provides sufficient protection for other ray species that may (or may not) be depleted,’ The NFFO states.

    ‘The whole issue has been mired in a mist of data-deficiency and blunt management measures for several years, not least the misconceived prohibition on the landing of small-eyed ray and blond ray. There is now a glimmer of hope that a way forward can be found. What science there is confirms that some ray stocks of commercial interest are doing very well.’

    Throughout the meeting there was broad agreement that the management of these fisheries is not fit for purpose, with sustainable fisheries on some ray species being thwarted and fishing opportunities lost. In addition, group skates and ray TAC covering 15 individual species is being dragged down by the weakest species while a blunt application of the precautionary approach drove the overall TAC downward by repeated 20% cuts over successive years, creating a significant regulatory discard problem in mixed fisheries where none previously existed; we are now dealing with the legacy of this blinkered approach.

    According to the NFFO, a combination of data deficiency and the precautionary approach is now denying the fishing industry access to an important resource while doing little or nothing for those species which may need additional protection.

    ‘Species identification of and therefore the quality of official catch statistics, is a major problem. A very low group TAC, as at present, or an individual TAC for each of the15 species, will prove to be the ultimate choke when skates and ray fall under the landings obligation on 1st January 2019,’ the NFFO’s spokesman said.

    ‘Ray populations can be very loyal to specific areas but the TAC areas are frequently poorly aligned with the biological realities. Alternative ways of protecting individual sub-species, such as spatial and temporal measures, are likely to be more effective than their inclusion in a group TAC, if they are well designed, and there is good reason to believe that many ray species demonstrate high survival when returned to the sea promptly after capture but the evidence necessary to demonstrate this conclusively is not yet there and will not be for some time, making high survival exemptions from the landings obligation problematic.’

    The looming problems associated with the incorporation of skates and ray under the landings obligation has been one of the main drivers for holding this meeting in the first place, although the issue has also been giving grief to all concerned at successive December Councils.

    The Commission’s Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries will now be asked to evaluate a range alternative options with a report produced in late autumn. This will inform future management decisions. The participants in the meeting will have the opportunity to comment on the terms of reference before they go to STECF.

    The industry has highlighted the inadequacy of the current arrangements and stressed the need for a new approach and has supported the views of fishermen in the room with knowledge based on practical and direct experience of local fisheries. While conceding that there was a problem of limited data on some species, the industry has questioned whether there was a generalised problem, against the background of dramatically reduced fishing mortality across all areas and all the main species groups in the NE Atlantic since 2000, as well as positive stock trends on associated species.

    ‘Although the speed at which the Commission moved to disapply the TAC for dab and flounder suggests that a new realism may be awakening in the Commission, the worry is that at least another year will go by struggling with a dysfunctional approach to the management of skates and ray,’ The NFFO states.

    ‘The obvious solution would be an interim measure in 2018 with a separate TAC for those stocks like thornback that are abundant, whilst continuing to develop innovative but realistic protective measures for where it is needed in time for 1st January 2019.’

    ‘The Brexit-shaped elephant in the room was alluded to on several occasions but as the skates and ray stocks will continued to be shared after the UK leaves the EU (and therefore the CFP), the work done in this meeting will be relevant under any scenario. Ensuring adequate fishing opportunities for fishermen, while affording stock protection where it is needed will be at the focus of management concerns, whatever the regime.’

    Source: NFFO

  5. #375
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    Quotas ‘must be based on science’

    https://www.fishupdate.com/quotas-must-based-science/

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