THE European Union is set to impose an almost total ban on sea bass in the North Atlantic zone as it draws up fishing quotas for next year.
The Commission says it is very concerned about the state of some stocks, adding that sea bass gives rise for the most concern.
There are plans to reduce fishing on 28 stocks and maintain or increase 42 stocks. Decisions will be made at the December meeting of the council of fisheries ministers.
Presenting his proposals, fisheries commissioner Karmenu Vella (pictured) said: ‘The scientific advice for sea bass is very alarming. The Commission has included in its proposal actions for managing sea bass in 2017.
‘These management measures would allow some fishing possibilities to the small-scale fishermen that depend on this stock, but take into account that ICES advises to cut the overall landings of sea bass.’
And it is not just sea bass which is giving cause for concern. The commissioner said cod stocks continue to decline in the west of Ireland, in the Celtic Sea, in the Bay of Biscay and in Atlantic Iberian waters.
Sole in the Irish Sea is very vulnerable. The advice for whiting in the west of Scotland is for zero catches and decreases are proposed for megrims and pollack in the Celtic and Irish seas. In the Kattegat a reduction for plaice is proposed.
But there is better news for other species, such as haddock and hake, with increased quotas being recommended.
There are proposals to raise catches for common sole in the Skagerrak/Kattegat and sole in the Western Channel.
Increases are also proposed for Norway lobster in the Kattegat/Skagerrak, horse mackerel in Atlantic Iberian waters and haddock in the Irish Sea and Celtic Sea.
The continued growth of the Northern hake stock also justifies a new substantial increase in the TAC.
Commissioner Vella added: ‘Our goal is clear: we need to bring all stocks to healthy and sustainable levels as soon as possible so that our fishing industry can remain viable.
‘This is not up to the Commission alone; stakeholders are fundamental enablers in this process. We are proposing an ambitious programme for 2017 and the only way forward will be to work with fishermen, scientists and national authorities to develop real solutions that lead to fisheries that are both economically profitable and sustainable.’