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EU agrees on multinational management plan for North Sea

NGO Pew calls the plan 'disappointing,' saying it will allow overfishing for certain species.

EU lawmakers on Friday reached agreement on a multi-annual fisheries management plan for the North Sea hailed by fishermen as recognition of the need for more regionalized management.

The European Parliament, the European Commission and EU Council based Friday’s agreement on an August 2016 proposal.

The agreement sets new ranges for sustainable catch limits for demersal stocks aimed at ensuring stocks are at levels above maximum sustainable yield.

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Commissioner Karmenu Vella hailed the agreement as another sign of the EU’s commitment to sustainable fisheries.

“[The deal] signals the EU's determination to protect the future of our fishing industry and coastal communities,” Vella said.

“The North Sea is one of Europe's richest fishing grounds and only with long-term and sound planning, we can provide the necessary predictability and profitability to our fishermen for the long run.”

Europeche, which represents fisheries associations throughout the bloc, hailed the deal as a step forward, say it “[brings] decision-making closer to Member States and fishery.”

The group welcomed the 2020 timeline for the implementation of more stringent quotas and total allowable catches (TACs).

“This will allow the necessary flexibility for policy makers to take account of the fluctuations and uncertainties of nature when setting the quotas,” Europeche said.

Pim Visser from the Dutch Fisheries Organisation VisNed, said he was “pleased” with the plan.

“Fisheries management has been successful during the last years, given the fact that since 1957 there has never been so much fish in the North Sea,” he said. “ We hope that this agreement will continue delivering sustainable catches and legal certainty to our fishermen.”

NGO Pew Trusts called the plan, which enters into force in 2018, "disappointing."

The flexibility granted by the commission "seems to allow overfishing of some stocks."

“Multi-annual plans should guide fisheries ministers away from short-termism and ensure fishing limits deliver on the ambitious objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy," Andrew Clayton, project director forending overfishing in North-Western Europe at Pew said.

"By agreeing to water down the North Sea plan’s aims and include 'flexibility; to overfish, the council, the commission and the parliament have made it harder to reach the CFP’s 2020 deadline to end overfishing, just days before fishing limits are agreed for 2018.”

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