Regulation (EU) 2019/472 establishing a multiannual plan for stocks fished in the Western Waters and adjacent waters, and for fisheries exploiting those stocks

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Publication Date 25/03/2019
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Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 March 2019 amending Regulations (EU) 2016/1139 and (EU) 2018/973 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 811/2004, (EC) No 2166/2005, (EC) No 388/2006, (EC) No 509/2007 and (EC) No 1300/2008.

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The objective of the Regulation is to establish a management plan for demersal stocks, including deep-sea stocks, and their fisheries in the Western Waters. The plan will ensure the sustainable exploitation of these stocks, by ensuring that they are exploited according to the principles of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) and of the ecosystem approach to fisheries management as well as the precautionary approach. The plan will provide stability of fishing opportunities, while ensuring that management is based on the most up to date scientific information on stocks, mixed fisheries and other aspects of the ecosystem and environment. The plan will also facilitate the introduction of the landing obligation.


The fisheries of the Western Waters and adjacent areas are highly complex, involving vessels from at least seven coastal Member States, using a wide variety of different fishing gears to target a wide range of different fish and shellfish species. A key issue is that many of the most important demersal stocks (i.e. those that live on or near the bottom of the sea) are caught in mixed fisheries. In practice, this means that each time a vessel retrieves its fishing gear, its catch will consist of a mix of different species. The composition of that mixture will change depending on the type of fishing gear in use, and on when and where it is used.

For vessels catching fish stocks subject to total allowable catches (TACs) it means that they should stop fishing once their quota for that stock is exhausted. Prior to the adoption of Regulation 1380/2013 on the Common Fisheries Policy (the ‘Basic Regulation’) vessels did not have to stop fishing once their quota for one of these species was exhausted. Instead, they were able to continue fishing for other target species and, as a result, they continued to catch the species for which quotas were already exhausted, even though they could not legally land these catches. These catches in excess of the quota had to be discarded.

With the introduction of the landing obligation by the Basic Regulation, it becomes illegal to discard any catches in excess of the quota, once fully implemented. Accordingly, vessels might have to stop fishing early in the year once their quota for the most limiting stock is exhausted. In this case the most limiting stock would become what is known as a 'choke-species' because, once the quota for that stock was exhausted, it would block the opportunities to continue fishing for other stocks. It is, therefore, desirable to account for the fact that some stocks are caught together in mixed fisheries when setting TACs for these stocks. Such an approach should have advantages for both stock conservation and for exploitation of the stocks.

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EUR-Lex: COM(2018)149: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a multiannual plan for fish stocks in the Western Waters and adjacent waters, and for fisheries exploiting those stocks
European Parliament: EPRS Briefing, October 2018: Multiannual plan for fisheries in the Western Waters [EU Legislation in Progress]

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