The European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries agreed on a multiannual plan with EU ministers to tackle overfishing and offer more security to North Sea fishermen.

This is the second multiannual fisheries plan under the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Its aim is to govern the management of fishing for demersal species living near the bottom of the sea, which account for 70% of catches in the North Sea.

According to a European Parliament press release, the complexity of North Sea mixed fisheries makes it impossible to target and catch only one species and the plan is tailored to reflect this, partly by covering different stocks. The long-term sustainable exploitation of these stocks should guarantee the security of fishing stocks and the livelihoods of fishing communities.

“With the North Sea being one of our most important fishing grounds, it is crucial to ensure that stocks are exploited in a sustainable manner, including after Brexit,” said Ulrike Rodust (S&D, DE).

The new rules would set the ranges (minimum-maximum) within which EU ministers can set the yearly Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas. They will also allow new scientific evidence to be quickly taken on board when fixing the quotas.

The rules would also suspend and/or reduce fishing for one particular stock when scientific advice indicates a stock is in danger.

As regards cooperation between the EU member states, the new rules would allow countries directly affected by an issue to submit joint recommendations (if there is an abrupt change in the situation of a stock). The EU Commission would then draft “delegated acts” based on these joint recommendations, to tackle the problem.

About agreements with non-EU countries, MEPs added a new article stating that “where stocks of common interest are also exploited by third countries, the EU shall engage with those third countries with a view to ensuring that these stocks are managed in a sustainable manner”.

“We added a new article stating that ‘shared stocks’ need to equate to shared responsibility,” said Rodust. “A management of North Sea fisheries that is consistent with the goals of the CFP reform offers better prospects for fishermen, by ensuring long-term sustainability.”

The provisional agreement between the MEPs and the EU ministers needs to be formally approved by the Fisheries Committee and the full House.