The European Commission has just tabled an amendment to the long-term management plan for cod in the North Sea, the Skagerrak, the Eastern Channel, the Kattegat, the West of Scotland and the Irish Sea.
The plan, which has been in force since 2008, aims at bringing back cod stocks to sustainable levels. It has now been revised in the light of an evaluation by scientists and of feedback from the fishing sector and the Member States. In the new plan, a series of technical amendments are proposed. For instance, more flexibility is proposed in order to avoid an automatic reduction of total allowable catches (TAC) and fishing effort by 25% every year in cases of lack of certain scientific data. Also, incentives are given to member states to make their fishermen reduce discarding of unwanted fish. For instance, in fisheries where all catches are counted against quotas, the vessels participating in anti-discard trials should be exempt from the effort regime (limits of how much fishing vessels can fish).
In the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, the Commission has proposed to gradually replace single-species management plans by multi-species, mixed-fishery plans. Today’s amendment to the cod plan is an interim solution pending the development and implementation of such a novel mixed-fishery long-term plan for the North Sea area.