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European Commission proposes quotas for jointly managed stocks and amended technical rules for haddock

Sea-River Newsletter Number 140

The European Commission proposed today to amend a number of measures adopted by the Council last December on fishing possibilities and associated measures for 2004.

It proposes the adoption of total allowable catches for the stocks jointly managed by the European Union and Norway following agreement between the two parties in January. On the basis of new scientific data, the Commission proposes to amend the boundaries of the cod protection area in the North Sea and to change the percentages of haddock that can be caught by vessels not holding a special licence (see attached maps). Fishing with pots and creels as well as for pelagic species (mid-water) could be permitted in an area west of Scotland currently closed to all fisheries to protect cod. Also proposed is that time spent by a vessel subject to the days-out-of-port regime assisting another vessel in need of emergency aid is not counted against the vessel’s allocation. The aim of the proposal is to introduce flexibility where necessary and better adapt measures to the fisheries concerned.

Total allowable catches
The proposal relates, among others, to total allowable catches (TACs) for 2004 on the stocks jointly managed with Norway in the North Sea. As agreement was not reached until 24 January, provisional figures had been included in the December Regulation.The Commission now proposes the adoption of the TACs agreed with Norway.
On the basis of scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and a recommendation by the International Baltic Sea Fisheries Commission (IBSFC) for a revision of the TAC for cod in the Baltic eastern stock, the Commission proposes to increase the current TAC of 32, 000 tonnes by 13, 400 tonnes.

Cod protection areas
North Sea : A cod protection area has been established where vessels targeting haddock are not allowed to fish. This is managed by requiring vessels targeting haddock to hold a special licence and not to fish in the cod protection area.
New scientific data show that the boundaries of the cod protection zone should be amended as some haddock fisheries take place in this area. In view of this evidence and to ensure that fishermen can catch haddock without weakening the protection currently afforded to cod, the Commission proposes to adjust the area concerned accordingly.
It is also proposed to change the percentages of haddock that can be caught by vessels not holding a special licence. Currently, 20% of the haddock quota can be caught outside the special licence conditions. The Commission proposes to increase this to 35%.
West of Scotland : In an area west of Scotland, where all fisheries have been prohibited since 1 January 2004 to protect cod, the Commission proposes that fisheries that do not catch cod be permitted. These include fisheries for crustaceans using pots and creels and pelagic nets for species such as herring, mackerel, horse mackerel, blue whiting and argentines.

Assisting another vessel
The Commission also proposes to allow Member States not to count against the days allocated to their vessels any days when the vessels have been absent from port but unable to fish because it was assisting another vessel in distress.