Atlantic and North Sea: Council agrees 2019 fishing quotas

Next year the number of fish stocks managed at maximum sustainable yield (MSY) levels will rise to 59, and there will be additional protection for the European eel. At the same time EU fishermen in the Atlantic and the North Sea will be able to increase their catches of a number of healthy stocks.

After very intense negotiations, the Council reached agreement on 2019 catch limits for the main commercial fish stocks in the area. The agreement is based on a strong commitment to the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP): environmental, economic and social sustainability.

The Council decided in particular to increase catches for a number of stocks, including plaice in Skagerrak/Kattegat, the Southern hake stock, Western and Southern horse mackerel, cod, sole and plaice in the Irish Sea, and sole and megrim in the Bay of Biscay. Decreases were also agreed for some stocks.

The issue of choke species in mixed fisheries, i.e. species with a low quota that can cause a vessel to stop fishing even if it still has quota for other species, was addressed through enhanced inter-area and inter-species flexibility. Moreover a new quota exchange mechanism was created for member states without a quota for by-catches in five fisheries: cod in the Celtic sea and west of Scotland, whiting in the Irish sea and west of Scotland, and plaice in the south-western part of area 7.

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