Bay of Biscay anchovy: EU Commission to close fishery following scientific advice
European Commission’s advisory group recommends fishery be closed until 31 December 2006
After examining the most recent data available on anchovy in the Bay of Biscay, the European Commission’s advisory group, the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STECF), has recommended that the fishery be closed until 31 December 2006.
Given this advice, the Commission will shortly launch a procedure to close the fishery for the remainder of the year. This closure is in line with the decision taken by the Council of Fisheries Ministers on 22 December 2005 on Total Allowable Catches and quotas for 2006.
The Council decided that, should STECF advise that the stock of adult anchovy, in the Bay of Biscay, was below 28,000 tonnes during spawning time, in spring, the Commission would immediately stop fishing for anchovy in the Bay of Biscay. STECF has estimated this stock at 18,640 tonnes. This is well below safe biological levels, and the decision to close the fishery reflects the recognition by Member States of the severe risk of collapse which the anchovy stock in the Bay of Biscay is now facing.
This is the second year in a row in which anchovy stock levels, in the Bay of Biscay, have been so low that the fishery has had to be closed to help the stock recover. Last December, Council agreed to a provisional TAC of 5,000 tonnes and to an in-season review based on scientific advice to be provided in June. It also set strict criteria which would trigger the closure of the fishery if the stock was in a poor biological state. A proposal to increase the provisional TAC of 5,000 tonnes would have been possible had the stock been at a sufficient level to allow fishing beyond that level. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
In accordance with the position already announced by the Commission in 2005 concerning this fishery, financial aid may be available again this year for those affected by this closure under the Fisheries Fund (Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance, FIFG). FIFG rules allow for the granting of tie-up aid for a total period of 6 months over the entire 2000-2006 programming period. As aid was granted for less than 6 months, following the 2005 closure, it could be continued again this year so long as no more than 6 months aid is given in 2005 and 2006 taken together. The anchovy fishery will be closed through a Commission Regulation which is expected to be adopted imminently.
Report of the STECF-SGRST Working Group on Anchovy in the Bay of Biscay