Advice and Recommendations

The Pelagic AC provides credible, scientific, and consensus-based advice to inform pelagic fisheries policy, both upon the request of the European Commission and Member States, and on its own initiative. All advice and recommendations are developed and approved by the members of the Pelagic AC. 

Our advice — and responses to it — may be accessed below.

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Call for acceptance rebuilding plan Western horse mackerel in bilateral discussions EU-UK

The rebuilding plan for Western horse mackerel was finalized by Pelagic AC and submitted to the Commission in 2020. This rebuilding plan was evaluated by ICES in 2021 and deemed precautionary.

The recent ICES advice for this stock (published on 30 September 2022) recommends zero catches in 2023. This advice reflects the urgent need to step up efforts in adopting this plan as soon as possible. The purpose of the rebuilding plan is to ensure stock recovery to safe biomass levels as well as a long-term stock exploitation with the objective of achieving MSY. The PelAC would be grateful if the Commission could pursue, as a matter of urgency, the acceptance of the rebuilding plan for this stock in its negotiations with the UK during the next meeting of the Specialized Committee on Fisheries (SCF) organized by the end of October.

2022 Letter to COM
Joint NWWAC/PelAC advice on the impacts of underwater noise and offshore wind energy developments on commercial fisheries

In 2020 the North Western Waters AC and the Pelagic AC embarked on developing advice to the European Commission on the impact of seismic and wind energy developments. The Advisory Councils are pleased to jointly submit this follow-up advice following the successful conclusion of their joint workshop held this year.

On both the European and the international level it is yet unclear to what extent (potential cumulative) effects of offshore wind energy developments on fishing areas, for example spawning grounds, nursery areas, or important habitats for fish stocks, are taken into account in a cross-border context, as policy, research and mitigation appear not to be streamlined.

We are at a time where renewable energy can help us to mitigate effects of climate change, however, this comes hand-in-hand with new ecological risks and pressures on already heavily environmentally impacted busy seas with other pressure factors taking place such as underwater noise.

2022 Letter to COM Commission response
Fishing opportunities 2023

The Pelagic AC provides recommendations on TACs in 2023 for stocks under its remit.

2022 Fishing opportunities 2023
Follow-up on the publication of the report on the evaluation of compliance with the landing obligation for mackerel in NS and NWW 2015-2017 and ongoing review

The regional groups are currently reviewing the evaluation of the compliance with the landing obligation for mackerel after the first report published in 2020. The PelAC expressed in several letters its great disappointment over EFCA and the regional groups’ refusal to publish the full report. While the PelAC’s request for the publication of this first report still stands, the ongoing review of the evaluation by the regional groups is an opportunity to rectify this situation and ensure full transparency. Once the review will be completed, the PelAC urges the High-Level regional groups to authorise and instruct the EFCA to publish not only the executive summary but also the integral report, regardless of its conclusions.

2022 Letter to Scheveningen MS Group Letter to SWW MS Group Letter to NWW MS Group
EU reaction to unilateral decisions from Norway and Faroe Islands on quota for the Northeast Atlantic mackerel and consequent severe risk of overfishing

Both the Faroe Islands and Norway unilaterally set own quotas for total catches of Mackerel in the Northeast Atlantic. The combined TAC for these two nations now amounts to almost 55% of the recommended annual TAC.

In light of these irresponsible unilateral decisions, which go against all the efforts of the EU and its fleet to sustainably manage fish stocks based on the best possible scientific advice, the PelAC urges the European Commission and the Council of the European Union to take immediate and decisive actions to stop Norway and the Faroe Islands from another year of massive overfishing of this valuable stock.

Finally, the PelAC remains committed to a long-term sustainable management strategy for mackerel and recalls the need for the EU and Coastal States to work towards a management tool considered precautionary by ICES.

2022 Letter to COM Commission Response
ICES draft stakeholder engagement strategy – PelAC comments

At the occasion of the MIACO meeting of 22 June, ICES presented the draft stakeholder engagement strategy and requested input from stakeholders. The Pelagic Advisory Council (PelAC) participated in this meeting and then discussed the draft stakeholder engagement strategy at its Executive Committee meeting on 13 July. The comments were written in a letter to ICES.

2022 Letter to ICES
Notification to the Advisory Councils of relevant meetings

Since their establishment under the Common Fisheries Policy as far back as 2005, the Advisory Councils have grown not only in number, but also in reach and in coverage of thematic issues. In recent years the ACs have seen the introduction of wide-ranging policies by the European Commission, such as the Green Deal and its related strategies. The ACs are the ideal vehicles to reach out to hundreds of stakeholders at the same time. Unfortunately, is has become apparent that the invitations to meetings does not seem to extend into all parts of DG MARE with the result that the ACs have been left out of important meetings in the past. The ACs would be grateful if they could be notified as part of the routine scheduling of MARE events.

In its response the Commission agreed to facilitate participation by ACs members by routinely notifying the ACs of the schedules of various MARE events such as the science seminar, and increase the already existing efforts MARE is undertaking in this respect.

2022 Inter-AC letter to COM Commission response
Joint-Recommendation NWWAC-PelAC Sprat in English Channel (areas 7d and 7e)

The NWWAC and PelAC recommend that the TAC for sprat in the English Channel should not exceed the ICES MSY advice.

The advice mentions the stock structure of sprat populations in the Celtic Seas ecoregion is unknown. The ACs recommend that a genetics stock identification project should be undertaken to better understand the stock structure of the sprat populations in the Celtic Seas ecoregion.

In addition, in the context of improved management of the directed fishery, the PelAC will be examining the possibility of developing a management strategy for sprat in the Celtic Sea ecoregion.

Both ACs suggest that the current sprat management units should be evaluated by ICES.

Gentlemen’s Agreement NWWAC and PelAC on joint work on sprat and greater silver smelt

The North Western Waters Advisory Council and the Pelagic Advisory Council approved a gentlemen’s agreement, establishing a protocol for collaboration on providing advice to the European Commission on sprat and greater silver smelt in ICES areas VI and VII.

As part of the newly agreed NWWAC-PelAC protocol, the PelAC will include the greater silver smelt stock in the advice package to be presented by ICES during the annual PelAC Working Group II meeting in July.

All concerned NWWAC members will be invited to attend the April meeting as observers. During this meeting, discussions on the catch advice of sprat will be held between ICES and PelAC members, and preliminary thoughts on a potential recommendation will be formulated.

2022 Letter NWWAC PelAC Gentlemens Agreement
PelAC contribution to public consultation on review of the CFP

In its response to the review of the CFP consultation, the Pelagic AC highlighted a number of key themes such as the impacts of Brexit. The PelAC underlined the importance of taking changes in relation to Brexit onboard in any review of the current CFP, as it has fundamentally changed the dynamic of the CFP. The PelAC stressed the shortcomings of the regionalization process in the context of pelagic fisheries, and raised existing issues as a consequence of mis-alignment between the CFP and other Union legislations. The PelAC highlighted the importance of progressing the application of the ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management. Finally, the PelAC felt managing all stocks at MSY-level was an example of a CFP objective contributing to positive change on the status of fish stocks.

2022 Consultation Review CFP 2022 Annex 2014 landing obligations

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