Norway lobster recovery plan in the Cantabrian Sea

Norway lobster recovery plan in the Cantabrian Sea

On 18 November 2020, Spanish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Francisco José Millán Mon of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:

“Galicia is the EU’s main fishing region. On 16 October 2020, the Galician Parliament’s fisheries and shellfish committee adopted a proposal urging the Spanish Government to provide the Commission with a recovery plan for the Norway lobster in the Bay of Biscay and Iberian waters (ICES subarea 8).

The Norway lobster recovery plan would take the following matters into consideration:

Establishing annual total allowable catches which make it possible for fishing grounds to be opened and operational in sustainable conditions.

Adopting fishery management measures, such as setting a maximum limit for fishing capacity and effort as well as time-area closures.

Establishing a procedure to improve the collection of scientific data on the status of Norway lobster stocks.

1. Has the Commission received any proposals from the Spanish Government on the Norway lobster recovery plan?

2. Is the Commission intending to adopt any of the measures proposed by the Parliament of Galicia?

3. What is the Commission’s justification for its proposal to keep the Norway lobster fishery in ICES division 8c closed and cut total allowable catches in the Atlantic and the North Sea by 11% for 2021?”

On 1 February 2021, Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The Commission has not received any proposals for a recovery plan for Norway Lobster: it is however aware of ongoing scientific campaigns in Spain for such a recovery plan. Any national scientific work on Norway Lobster flows into the work of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

For Norway Lobster in ICES Division 8c the ICES advice for 2020, 2021 and 2022 is for 0 catches. In 2018, ICES published its technical service advice for a scientific fishery for Norway Lobster in Functional Units 25 and 31. Therefore, the Total allowable catch (TAC) is set for a scientific fishery only. The Commission proposal for the TAC and quota for 2021 was based on the scientific advice of ICES.

The Commission would like to recall that the biomass is at a very low level since 2012, with a decline by 89% between 1975 and 2016, representing in 2016 less than 2% of the 1989 maximum. The fishery is closed since 2017 and only scientific fisheries are allowed since 2018. The current ICES advice is valid until 2022. According to ICES, it is not possible to make a correct assessment with data capture series of less than 5 years. Scientific campaigns are taken into account since 2017. Therefore, before 2022, no new assessment will be performed and no new measures will be adopted pending such new assessment.”


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