Documents considered by the Committee on 2 May 2018 Contents

2Multi Annual Plan for fishing in Western Waters

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Document details

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a multiannual plan for fish stocks in the western waters and adjacent waters, and for fisheries exploiting those stocks, amending Regulation (EU) 2016/1139 establishing a multiannual plan for the Baltic Sea and repealing Regulations (EC) No 811/2004, (EC) No 2166/2005, (EC) No 388/2006, (EC) 509/2007 and (EC) 1300/2008

Legal base

Article 43(2) TFEU, QMV, Ordinary legislative procedure

Department

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Document Number

(39598), 7245/1/18 + ADDs 1–2, COM(18) 149

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

2.1Multi-annual plans (MAPs) set a management framework establishing rules and criteria under which Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and other management measures are adopted. Under the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), MAPs should cover multiple stocks where those stocks are jointly exploited (i.e. a mixed fishery). On that basis, the Commission has proposed this new MAP incorporating Western Waters stocks into a single management plan. The Government says that the MAP will provide a valuable framework for future cooperation between the UK and the EU.

2.2The fisheries of the Western Waters and adjacent areas are described by the Commission as “highly complex”. They involve vessels from at least seven coastal Member States, using a wide variety of different fishing gears to target a wide range of different fish and shellfish species. The area extends from waters close to the Faroe Islands in the north to waters off the west coast of Africa in the south. It includes all of the waters around the UK except the North Sea.

2.3The core of the Western Waters MAP is the setting of fishing ranges that are consistent with maximum sustainable yield (MSY) across the main demersal stocks (such as cod, haddock, whiting, hake, plaice, sole and nethrops). This is backed up by powers to introduce conservation measures where science indicates that these are needed to recover a stock to a sustainable condition. The MAP relies on scientific advice provided by ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Seas),

2.4The plan also covers implementation of the landing obligation (“discard ban”) and technical measures for all stocks and the fisheries exploiting those stocks in the Western Waters. Under the regionalised approach, affected Member States in the north and south western waters respectively may work together to draw up “joint recommendations” to implement the discard ban and apply technical measures. Those joint recommendations are subsequently adopted by the Commission.

2.5The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (George Eustice) explains that officials are currently examining the proposal in detail and will produce a comprehensive analysis which will be used to inform the UK’s response. Regarding Brexit, the Minister is clear that the UK will continue to have a strong interest in the overall status and effective long-term management of these stocks when it leaves the EU. He considers that the science-based framework established under the MAP will be valuable for future cooperation between the UK and the EU, although he emphasises that it is too early to assess the specific role that the MAP might play.

2.6The Minister highlights the Commission’s ambition—shared by the European Parliament—to agree the MAP by January 2019, but the Minister feels that this may not be achievable.

2.7We appreciate that the Department is still considering the implications of this complex proposal and we look forward to further information on the potential impact, as well as any evolution in the Government approach, once the analysis is complete. A key issue will be the degree of flexibility to respond to emergency situations or where an approach adopted based on international scientific (ICES) advice is shown to be misaligned with actual catch levels, thus potentially creating problems in mixed fisheries subject to the discard ban.

2.8We note the Minister’s view that the MAP will provide a valuable framework for cooperation between the UK and the EU. This aligns with the approach to negotiation of the North Sea MAP, which we cleared from scrutiny at our meeting of 31 January 2018.8 Indeed, we see strong parallels between the Commission’s approach to the Western Waters MAP and the final agreement on the North Sea MAP. Looking towards the future EU-UK fisheries agreement, we would welcome the Minister’s comment on the importance of ensuring as much consistency as possible between the respective MAPs in terms of approach.

2.9On the timetable, the Minister expresses scepticism that agreement can be reached by January 2019. From a UK perspective, though, we would hope that the UK will push for formal agreement by the end of March 2019, while the UK still has a vote in the Council. Such formal agreement would certainly require political agreement by January 2019 at the latest. We ask the Minister to confirm the UK’s intentions regarding the timetable and also confirm that the Regulation will enter into force upon adoption, will be immediately effective and will therefore apply during the post-Brexit implementation period.

2.10The deadlines for regional cooperation set out in the proposal would mean that a joint recommendation for technical and discard measures to be applied in 2020 would need to be submitted no later than 1 July 2019. Assuming the possibility that the Regulation will have entered into force by that date, we ask the Minister whether the UK would be keen to see measures in place under this Plan in 2020 and, if so, what appetite there might be to begin exploratory discussions about such measures while the UK remains a Member State. We note that, if the UK is not pro-active in this respect, it is feasible that a joint recommendation proposing measures applicable in UK waters could be proposed and agreed after the UK’s withdrawal, but nevertheless apply to the UK during 2020.

2.11We retain the proposal under scrutiny and draw it to the attention of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee given that Committee’s interest in the future EU-UK fisheries relationship.

Full details of the documents

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a multiannual plan for fish stocks in the western waters and adjacent waters, and for fisheries exploiting those stocks, amending Regulation (EU) 2016/1139 establishing a multiannual plan for the Baltic Sea and repealing Regulations (EC) No 811/2004, (EC) No 2166/2005, (EC) No 388/2006, (EC) 509/2007 and (EC) 1300/2008: (39598), 7245/1/18 + ADDs 1–2, COM(18) 149.

The Commission’s proposal

2.12The purpose of this MAP is to deliver a multi-species approach to fisheries management in specific sea basins in Western Waters (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) subareas 5b, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; and Fishery Committee for the Central Eastern Atlantic (CECAF) zones 34.1.1, 34.1.2 and 34.2.0). A map identifying the ICES areas is in Annex B of the Government’s EM.

2.13The objective of the draft MAP is two-fold:

2.14The draft MAP includes provisions on:

The Minister’s Explanatory Memorandum of 17 April 20189

2.15The Minister notes that officials are currently examining the proposal in detail and will produce a comprehensive analysis which will be used to inform the UK’s response. He considers that the MAP will help achieve UK policy objectives for sustainable management of fisheries across a range of stocks and summarises the approach in the following terms:

“The UK supports use of MSY ranges where these are appropriate as a tool to balance sustainable fishing opportunities in mixed fisheries. However, we also recognise a need to adjust total allowable catches or find pragmatic solutions for bycatch stocks where there is unavoidable fishing mortality in order to make the landing obligation work.”

2.16Turning to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the Minister says:

“The UK will continue to have a strong interest in the overall status and effective long term management of mixed demersal species and nephrops in Western Waters when it leaves the EU. The science based framework established under the MAP will provide a valuable framework for cooperation between the UK and the EU, where it will be important to find shared basis to agree on sustainable rates of exploitation across all commercially important species. Implementation of the proposed Western Waters MAP will be consistent with the UK’s commitment to deliver sustainable management of fisheries. It is too early to assess what role MAPs could play in the longer term when the UK has left the EU.”

Previous Committee Reports

None.


8 Twelfth Report HC 301–xii (2017–19), chapter 12 (31 January 2018).

9 Explanatory Memorandum dated 17 April 2018.




Published: 8 May 2018