German fishermen will be allowed to pull significantly more herring from the north sea next year than in 2017.
Following an agreement among EU fisheries ministers, the permitted catch will increase by 25 percent to around 64,700 metric tons. For cod, germany’s quota increases by 10 percent after nearly 24 hours of negotiations in brussels.
Restrictions, on the other hand, are in place for plaice with a minus of 13 percent. Fixed restrictions on eel fishing also apply for the first time. For environmentalists, this is not far enough.
The responsible EU ministers set the so-called total allowable catches for the north sea and the northeast atlantic every year. On the basis of these quantities, the respective national catch quantities are allocated to the individual states according to fixed distribution keys.
Prior to this, the EU commission makes recommendations on the basis of scientific bodies that have examined the condition of the individual stocks. The interests of the fishing industry must always be weighed against nature conservation concerns. The negotiated catch quotas are valid for the following year.
In addition, a 6 percent increase is now planned for pollock in the coming year. This increases the catch for germany to around 11,000 metric tons. For mackerel, on the other hand, the ban will be reduced by 20 percent.
In addition, in view of the endangered stocks, a closed season for eel in the baltic, north sea and atlantic is to apply for the first time next year. The EU states agreed on a three-month closed season. Countries can set these between the end of september 2018 and the end of january 2019. It applies to eels from a length of 12 centimeters. The EU commission had previously proposed a comprehensive ban on eel fishing for the entire year, but was unable to get its way.
Eel management plans have been in place in the EU since 2007, but environmentalists say they have not yet led to sufficient success. The international council for the exploration of the sea has long recommended reducing eel mortality throughout their range. At their meeting in october, the relevant EU ministers had already rejected a ban on eel fishing in the baltic sea, calling instead for a pan-european solution.
German fishermen catch around 49 tons of eel at sea each year. This corresponds to a two percent share of the EU eel catch there.
Environmentalists expressed disappointment with the results. "The short closed season will not save the eel," said thilo maack of greenpeace. With their decision, the ministers ignored scientific warnings and accepted that the european eel would become extinct.
"Also for many other food fish kinds for the coming year again higher catch quotas for north sea and northeast atlantic were set, than it the scientists of the advice for sea research recommends. This is not enough to end the overfishing of european seas by 2020, as the EU member states already decided in 2013," said maack.
"Progress has been too slow to put an end to overfishing by 2020," said the director of the marine conservation organization oceana, lasse gustavsson. "Legalized overfishing in the north sea is decreasing, but is still going into the next round," said stella nemecky of WWF.
Federal minister of agriculture christian schmidt (CSU) was satisfied. "In fisheries policy, we remain fully on course for sustainability," he said. "Therefore, consumers can enjoy fish from the north sea and the northeast atlantic without any qualms of conscience. There is no danger for the stock."
Already in october, the EU states had agreed on fishing quotas for the baltic sea.