North Sea sandeel fishery to reopen
EC sets total allowable catch for sandeel in the North Sea and Skagerrak for 2006 at 300,000 tonnes
The European Commission adopted a Regulation setting the total allowable catch (TAC) for sandeel in the North Sea and Skagerrak for 2006 at 300,000 tonnes. This regulation also limits the number of days at sea for EU vessels to the level of 2003.
These measures have been taken on the basis of scientific advice provided by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee (STECF) which has estimated the number of sandeels born last year and joining the North Sea stock (recruitment) to be no less than 324 000 million individuals. As provided for under the Council Regulation of last December on TACs for 2006, the Commission has set a TAC accordingly.
Today’s Regulation amends last December’s Council Regulation setting TACs and quotas for 2006, which had established limitations on fishing effort not exceeding 20% of the 2004 level. This was to allow the undertaking of a commercial monitoring fishery to establish the abundance of sandeel in the spring. As provided by the 2005 December Council, the final TAC for sandeel now set corresponds to the case in which sandeels recruits should be estimated to number between 300 000 million and 500 000 million. The TAC of 300 000 tonnes will coverall fisheries in 2006, including the monitoring fishery authorised earlier this year.
The condition of the North Sea sandeel stock has been in severe decline for a number of years. In December 2004, Council approved a cut of 20% in the TAC for 2005, subject to in-year monitoring and revision. Following receipt of scientific advice that the 2004 year class had fallen beneath 300 000 million individuals, the Commission adopted a Regulation on 15 July 2005 closing the North Sea and Skagerrak sandeel fishery until the end of the year for an annual catch of 160,571 tonnes representing roughly 24.5% of the established TAC.
The Commission pointed out that the condition of the stock remains fragile, and will require continued monitoring and control so as to ensure that the TAC and fishing effort levels set for 2006 contribute to its long-term sustainability.