MEPs on the European Fisheries Committee (PECH) have agreed to adopt a new multiannual plan for Adriatic Sea fishing of small pelagic fish.
The draft rules set caps and targets for Adriatic Sea fishing, covering particularly the small species that swim close to the sea’s surface – small pelagic fish – such as anchovies and sardines. They establish the territories, methods and time windows in which the small fish can be caught without retribution.
The Adriatic Sea fishing cap on small pelagic catches will be fixed at 2014 levels for 2019; and is to be reduced by four per cent per year between 2020 and 2022. If a Member State’s total catch for one of these years is more than two per cent lower than its catch in 2014, the four per cent target will not apply. Different stocks, vessels and fishing gears will experience specific no-fishing periods in order to protect nursery and spawning areas.
Adriatic Sea fishing vessels which may have to halt or reduce their work in order to comply with the new rules will be given the opportunity to apply for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), which provides aid to fishing professionals in the bumpy transition to sustainable fishing practices. Vessels affected by the new caps will be eligible for financial support up to 15 per cent above the standard EMFF funding ceiling.
The multiannual plan and its impact on stocks will be re-evaluated by the committee in 2021 when, if necessary, changes will be made to the legislation. For now the proposed Adriatic Sea fishing regulations will be negotiated by the European Parliament and the European Council before being implemented.
The Adriatic Sea fishing plan has become the third multiannual plan to be approved under the new Common Fisheries Policy, following 2016’s Baltic Sea plan and the North Sea fishing plan adopted earlier this year.