Sufficient quota for Dutch fisheries

In 2013 Dutch plaice and sole fishing vessels will put to sea as often as in 2012. The Dutch delegation at the annual Fisheries Council in Brussels were able to secure the same number of days-at-sea (days on which fishing vessels may put to sea) for 2013 as in 2012. This also applies to cod fisheries.

This is important for Dutch fisheries as a proposal had been tabled which would have considerably reduced the number of days-at-sea. By maintaining the same number of days-at-sea it is still possible to actually catch the assigned quota. This is again significant for Dutch fisheries because the sector considers the current days-at-sea allocation as already being limited.

More plaice, less sole

European fisheries ministers have also decided that more plaice but less sole may be caught next year. These are two key species of fish for the Dutch fisheries sector. The exact Total Allowable Catch (TAC) still needs to be established for plaice, cod, herring, whiting and mackerel as negotiations between the European Union and Norway on access to each other’s waters are still ongoing. The TACs for 2013 have therefore been provisionally set at 70 percent of the 2012 level. The discussions with Norway will be concluded in January, after which the definitive TACs can be established. The TACs for horse mackerel and silver smelt remain unchanged compared to 2012.

Plaice and sole are the most important species of fish for the Dutch fisheries, and since 2007 they have been covered by multiannual European management plans in the North Sea. Thanks to this plan, plaice stocks are healthy.

Cod recovery plan

The definitive TAC for cod can also only be established once negotiations between the European Union and Norway have been concluded. The Netherlands, together with a number of other countries around the North Sea have already ensured that the number of days-at-sea for cod fisheries in 2013 remains equal to 2012. Because cod stocks have recovered less well than expected, the Netherlands indicated that further negotiations with Norway should take into consideration scientific recommendations to reduce the TAC by 20%. To the regret of the Netherlands, the decision on the TAC for cod was reached without taking the recommendations of the European Parliament into account. The Netherlands considers that the European Parliament should be fully involved in preparing recovery and multiannual plans for fish stocks.

Innovation in the fisheries sector

The Netherlands places a great deal of value on fisheries policy reform, and therefore supports an innovative experiment to fully document fisheries activities, which includes the use of cameras. The purpose of the project is to increase transparency within the sector. At the insistence of the Netherlands, obstacles were removed during the Fisheries Council so that this project is in harmony with the Dutch individual transferable quota system. Support from the fisheries sector is essential for the success of this project.

Establishing the quota

Every year European fisheries ministers establish TACs for the various species of fish. They do this on the basis of recommendations made by international fisheries biologists from the International Council on the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the Scientific Technical Economical Committee on Fisheries (STECF), and the Regional Advisory Councils. The total allowable catch for Europe is then divided into a national quota according to a formula, which is allocated to the individual EU Member States.

2013 Dutch quota

The following table shows the European TAC for 2013 and the Dutch quota for 2012 and 2013.

Fishspecies Area 2012 Dutch quota 2013 Dutch quota
 Sole  North Sea 12.151 10.492
 Plaice  North Sea 30.462 22.726*
 Cod  North Sea 2.540 1.778*
 Herring  North and central North Sea 53.537 37.476*
 Mackerel  Western Waters 24.043 22.341*

* = provisional quota – the definitive quota will be established in January after the negotiations with Norway are concluded.