Article 174 of the EC Treaty lists the prudent and rational utilisation of natural resources as one of the objectives of Community policy on the environment.
With regard to the state of anchovy stocks in the Bay of Biscay, the Commission decided last year to halt this fishery. The ICES reports advised that the anchovy fishery should not be reopened until June 2006, provided that the acoustic and egg surveys carried out showed that the stock had recovered strongly. In view of similar advice from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries, the Commission's intention was for the closure to remain in force until scientific assessments of the state of stocks were available in June 2006.
Why was the anchovy fishery opened in 2006 without waiting for June and the corresponding scientific assessment reports? Is the Commission aware of the report by the Basque Technological Centre for Marine and Food Research (AZTI), which estimates that the anchovy biomass is below the 'risk of collapse' indicators, set at 21 000 tonnes? Why has this fishery not already been halted, as requested by Basque fishermen working in the sector, when the Council of EU Fisheries Ministers agreed in December 2005 that anchovy fishing would be stopped if the biomass was less than 28 000 tonnes?