Proposal for a Regulation establishing a multi-annual plan for small pelagic stocks in the Adriatic Sea

Author (Corporate)
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Series Details (2017) 97, 24.2.2017
Publication Date 09/11/2018
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On 24 February 2017 the European Commission presented a proposal for a Regulation establishing a multi-annual plan for small pelagic stocks in the Adriatic Sea and the fisheries exploiting those stocks.

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The proposed Regulation addresses the problem of overexploitation of small pelagic stocks due to an unsustainable fishery and ineffective governance. The main objective of the multiannual plan is to return the stocks and the fisheries sector to a healthy state by ensuring that the fishery is made sustainable. This will ensure that the fishing sector can continue to rely on this resource in the long term. The multiannual plan will also facilitate the introduction of the landing obligation by providing a basis for derogations in certain circumscribed situations.


The Adriatic Sea is an important sub-area within the Mediterranean, accounting for around one third of the total landings value. Small pelagic species (which swim near the surface) are an important component of the Adriatic fishery, representing a high economic income for the fisheries sector in that sea basin. The most valuable and sought-after small pelagic species in the Adriatic Sea are anchovy and sardine. The vast majority are caught by Italy and Croatia, in the northern part of the Adriatic. The only other Member States involved in the fishery are Slovenia, which accounts for less than 1% of total catches, and Albania and Montenegro who have an equally small fraction of catches.

Currently, small pelagic fisheries in the Adriatic Sea are governed by several legal frameworks at national, EU and international level. Croatia, Italy and Slovenia have all adopted national management plans under Regulation (EC) No 1967/2006 (the Mediterranean Regulation) covering purse seiners and pelagic trawls, which are the gears involved in the small pelagic fisheries. At EU level a limited amount of discarding is allowed under a three year discard plan. A management plan and successive emergency measures have been adopted at international level by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean.

Despite these management measures, the most recent scientific advice indicates that anchovy and sardine in the Adriatic Sea are still being overexploited and the stocks are likely to decline further. The situation is getting worse as we are moving further away from sustainable fishing levels and we are far from the target of exploiting stocks at maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by 2020 at the latest. According to the latest scientific advice, catches need to be decreased considerably for both species to reach sustainable levels of fishing.

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Related Links
EPRS: Briefing: Establishing a multi-annual plan for small pelagic stocks in the Adriatic Sea [Initial Appraisal of a European Commission Impact Assessment, May 2017]
ESO: Multiannual plan for small pelagic fish stocks in the Adriatic Sea
EUR-Lex: SWD(2017)64: Impact assessment
EUR-Lex: SWD(2017)63: Executive summary of the impact assessment

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