After two days of negotiations, ministers agreed on fishing opportunities in the Atlantic, North Sea, Mediterranean and Black Seas for 2023, as well as for selected deep-sea stocks for 2023 and 2024. In Overall, the agreement provides catch limits, also known as “total allowable catches” (TACs), for more than 200 commercial fish stocks. More than 100 of these stocks in the Atlantic and North Seas are managed jointly with the UK. Agreeing interim catch limits for the first three months of 2023 which include a temporary renewal of existing fishing opportunities. For some fisheries where fishing takes place mainly in the first part of the year, this seasonality has been taken into account. Ministers agreed on a similar approach for jointly managed stocks with Norway.
Zdeněk Nekula, Czech Minister of Agriculture
The Council is determined to preserve and restore fish stocks to sustainable levels while protecting the future of communities dependent on fishing. The agreement is the result of two long days of intense negotiations and the good will of all the member states. This is the best result we could achieve to guarantee continuity to our fishing fleets without compromising the commitments made in terms of sustainability.
To protect eel stocks, ministers agreed to ban recreational fishing and extend the closure for all commercial eel fishing to six months in adjacent marine and brackish waters in the north-east Atlantic (including the Baltic Sea) and in the Mediterranean (excluding the Black Sea) in a differentiated way to take into account the different periods of migration in the different sea basins. As a result, Member States will be able to adapt the closure period for different fishing areas, in order to take into account their specificities as well as temporal and geographical migration patterns of eel, the stage of development of glass eels and of Argentine eels.
For the Mediterranean and Black Seas, the Council agreed to reduce the fishing effort for trawlers in the Western Mediterranean by 7% in order to protect demersal stocks, in line with the EU’s legal obligation to achieve sustainable maximum for these stocks by 2025 The setting of TACs and quotas is an annual and, in the case of deep-sea species, a biennial exercise which the Agriculture and Fisheries Council undertakes in December. Ministers set catch limits for commercial fish stocks for the following year, together with national quotas for each species. The stocks concerned are those that the EU manages autonomously, jointly with neighboring third countries or through agreements concluded within Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs). Since 2020, after the entry into force of the multiannual plan for demersal species in the Western Mediterranean, the fishing opportunities in the Mediterranean and Black Seas are also discussed at Council level. The final political agreement is based on an initial proposal from the Commission, which takes into account the best available scientific advice, the main objectives of the basic regulation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the various multiannual management plans in place.