Select Committee on European Union Twenty-Fifth Report


Glossary of main fisheries terms used in the Report and evidence

Age group    All those fish spawned in the same year, and thus of the same age (for example, "0­group" are fish in their first year of life, "1­group" are fish in their second year of life, and so on).

Aquaculture    Fish farming, i.e. controlled breeding of fish or shellfish (typically in fresh water or sheltered coastal marine environments).

Black fish    Fish landed illegally at night or in small unregulated harbours (fish are typically undersized or from quotas that have already been exceeded).

By-catch    Any organism that is caught in addition to the target fish. Some by-catches are marketable although much is discarded.

CFP      Common Fisheries Policy. Introduced in 1983 as a 20-year programme for fisheries management in EU waters.

Days at sea    See Fishing effort.

Demersal    Fish living near the sea bottom (e.g. cod, haddock, halibut, ling and turbot) (cf Pelagic).

Discards    Fish and other organisms disposed of at sea, usually dead (typically discarded because they are non-target species or below minimum landing size, or because the quota for that species has been exhausted).

Eco-labelling    Labelling of products or commodities to indicate that they satisfy certain environmental criteria.

Effort controls    See Fishing effort.

Ecosystem approach  A fisheries management system which considers the overall marine environment and the effects of commercial fishing on established food chains and community structure.

Fishing effort    The amount of fishing exerted by a fishing vessel. This is roughly proportional to the percentage of total stock taken each year. A reduction in fishing effort (effort control) can be achieved by limiting the time spent on fishing (days at sea).

Fishing mortality rate  Mortality caused by fishing, in addition to natural mortality. A rate of no more than twice the natural mortality is thought desirable; in EU waters it can be as much as 4 or 5 times as high.

Ground fish    See Demersal.

Hague Preference  Adjusts the CFP quotas to give some preference to coastal communities that are particularly dependent on the fishing industry.

Industrial fishing    Large-scale fishing for low-value fish (e.g. sprat, pout and sand eel) to produce fish meal, oils and fat. In the EU, notably by Denmark.

ICES      International Council for the Exploration of the Sea.

ITQ      Individual Transferable Quota. A fisheries management system where each boat is allocated, or purchases, a portion of the national stock quota. ITQs could be traded between boats to reflect actual catches, and thereby reduce the need for unnecessary discards of marketable fish.

JNCC      Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

MAGPs  Multi-Annual Guidance Programmes. EU programmes in which fleet capacity reduction targets are laid down for each Member State.

Multi-Annual TACs  TACs set for more than one year at a time, to avoid end of year problems when fish have to be discarded until the new quota year commences. Application of this policy requires longer term forecasts of stock levels to be made, with potentially high margins of error.

Nephrops    Nephrops norvegicus: Norwegian lobster, Dublin Bay prawn or langoustine.

No-take zone    An area of the sea closed to all fishing.

OECD      Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

Pelagic    Fish and other organisms living in the upper layers of the sea (e.g. tuna, herring, mackerel and pilchard) (cf Demersal).

Precautionary approach  Fisheries management term equivalent to the "precautionary principle", as used in environmental protection policy generally—i.e. a presumption against taking action which has the potential to harm the environment, even where scientific certainty is lacking.

RACs      Regional Advisory Councils.

Ranching    The enhancement of natural fisheries by artificially rearing young fish to be introduced to the wild.

Relative stability    The principle within the CFP that the total volume of allowable catch is shared among Member States in a manner which assures each State relative stability of fishing activities taking one year with another.

SSB      Spawning stock biomass.

Structural funds    The various Community funds, financed by the EU budget with matching contributions from Member States, through which aid is directed towards less developed areas of the EU.

TAC      Total Allowable Catch. A component of the CFP designed to achieve a specific fishing mortality rate (e.g. if so many tonnes of fish x are caught this year then the fishing mortality rate of y will be achieved). TACs are set each year by estimating the number of fish available in each age group, based either on scientific data ("analytical TAC") or on estimates from historical catch data ("precautionary TAC").

White fish    Fish with white flesh (mostly demersal) as opposed to oily fish such as herring and mackerel (mostly pelagic).

Year class    All those fish of a particular stock spawned in any one year. For example, the 1996 year class is all those fish (of a particular stock) spawned during 1996.

6-12 mile zone    The part of the 12 mile limit within which others having a historic right may fish as well as vessels of the coastal state.

12 mile zone    The area of sea under the jurisdiction of the coastal state.

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