The Spanish Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Luis Planas, described on Sunday as “unacceptable” the reduction of fishing days in the Mediterranean for 2023 proposed by the European Commission (EC) and that would result in three additional weeks in which the fleet could not go out to fish.
“We oppose the reduction of days proposed by the Commission for this year. If accepted, it would be three more weeks of shutdown of our fleet, it would mean a decrease of up to 31% in relation to the base figures when the regulation began to apply (the multiannual plan for demersal fisheries in the western Mediterranean) and we find it unacceptable, “said the politician upon arrival at the meeting of Fisheries Ministers of the European Union (EU) that begins today in Brussels.
At that meeting, which could last until Tuesday, an agreement must be reached on fishing opportunities in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic by 2023.
A multiannual plan for demersal fisheries in the western Mediterranean was adopted in June 2019, which has been in place since 2020, introduced a fishing effort management regime for trawlers with a view to achieving an overall reduction of up to 40% over five years.
Planas said that with the reduction proposed by the European Commission for 2023, the Mediterranean fleet could only go out to fish “approximately 150” days of the 365 that the year has.
“My concern is, obviously, also the concern of the profitability of the action, of the work of our fishermen, who are basically artisanal fishermen. We have about 680 ships in the Mediterranean,” he said.
The minister referred to the fact that the Community Executive proposes a compensation mechanism that would allow to recover 3% of the days in which you do not go fishing if certain conditions are met, such as the use of more selective fishing gear.
According to Planas, the compensation mechanism proposed by Brussels would mean “four additional working days of fishing”.
“But here, I think the important thing is that we have reached a point of equilibrium in which selectivity measures would be much more positive than the reduction of fishing days, that is, we could achieve maximum sustainable yield,” he said.
The head of Fisheries criticized that the EC makes “a linear reading of the content” of the multiannual plan for the western Mediterranean.
“It intends, in any case, to reach the end of the five years at 40% reduction. We say that, in addition, literal, the reading of the regulation, speaks of up to 40% if necessary, “said Planas.
He said that in order to give his approval, Spain needs “something that is balanced and acceptable.”
“We have to maintain the profitability of the sector, while advancing from the point of view of the stability of the populations,” he said, and stressed that the measures adopted in recent years “are already working”, so he considered that “it does not seem logical” to propose “new reductions”, as Brussels does, “without carrying out a deeper study of the consequences” of the initiatives already adopted.
On the Atlantic, Planas said that Spain will request increases in catches of pollock and sole, as well as continue with experimental scientific programs related to Norway lobster.
In the northwest Atlantic, Madrid is confident “to be able to consolidate the progress that has been made in relation to southern hake”. Brussels has proposed increasing catches by 10%.
He also considered it a “very significant” issue regarding the extension of the ban on any fishing activity related to eel from three to six consecutive months.
On the waters shared with the United Kingdom, he acknowledged that the agreement should have been closed on Saturday, but that for the moment it has not been achieved.
But he said he and five other ministers have asked the EC to spend more time “getting a good deal” instead of “accepting a bad deal.”
This Sunday, the countries, the Czech presidency of the EU and the European Commission will hold meetings and on Monday morning the Czech Republic will present a first compromise proposal, with the aim that the Twenty-seven can support it.