Procedure : 2008/0091(CNS)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0433/2008

Texts tabled :

A6-0433/2008

Debates :

Votes :

PV 04/12/2008 - 7.2
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2008)0573

REPORT     *
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10 November 2008
PE 412.172v03-00 A6-0433/2008

on the proposal for a Council regulation establishing a multi-annual plan for the stock of herring distributed to the West of Scotland and the fisheries exploiting that stock

(COM(2008)0240 – C6-0204/2008 – 2008/0091(CNS))

Committee on Fisheries

Rapporteur: Struan Stevenson

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION
 EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
 PROCEDURE

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a Council regulation establishing a multi-annual plan for the stock of herring distributed to the West of Scotland and the fisheries exploiting that stock

(COM(2008)0240 – C6-0204/2008 – 2008/0091(CNS))

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2008)0240),

–   having regard to Article 37 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6-0204/2008),

–   having regard to Rule 51 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A6-0433/2008),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, pursuant to Article 250(2) of the EC Treaty;

3.  Calls on the Council to notify Parliament if it intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

4.  Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to amend the Commission proposal substantially;

5.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and the Commission.

Amendment  1

Proposal for a regulation

Recital 7

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(7) To ensure stability in the fishing possibilities, it is appropriate to limit the variation in the TACs from one year to the next when the size of the stock is above 75 000 tonnes.

(7) To ensure stability in the fishing possibilities, it is appropriate to limit the variation in the TACs from one year to the next.

Justification

The variation of the TACs should not only be limited when the size of the stock is above 75 000 tonnes.

Amendment  2

Proposal for a regulation

Article 3 - paragraph 2 - point (a)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(a) maintaining the fishing mortality rate at 0.25 per year on appropriate age-groups when the spawning stock is above 75 000 tonnes;

(a) maintaining the fishing mortality rate at 0.25 per year on appropriate age-groups for the following year in those years when ICES and STECF can provide estimates of a spawning stock size of 75 000 tonnes or greater;

Amendment  3

Proposal for a regulation

Article 3 - paragraph 2 - point (c)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(c) providing for the closure of the fishery in the event that the spawning stock should fall below 50 000 tonnes.

(c) providing for a strict recovery plan based on advice from ICES and STECF in the event that the spawning stock should fall below 50 000 tonnes.

Justification

A complete closure of the fishery could represent a disproportionate response to the change in the spawning of biomass of the stock, for example when this is specified as being only very slightly below the 50 000 tonnes trigger point. In these circumstances, after taking advice from STECF, the fishery could remain open with a strict recovery plan in place. The Commission's assessment is uncertain and although the closure of fishing activities will be needed at certain points, it is inappropriate for the fishery to be automatically closed when the spawning stock was estimated to be only slightly below 50 000 tonnes.

Amendment  4

Proposal for a regulation

Article 3 - paragraph 3

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

3. The objective set out in paragraph 1 shall be attained within a maximum variation in TAC of 15% per year when the spawning stock is above 75 000 tonnes

3. The objective set out in paragraph 1 shall be attained within a maximum variation in TAC of 15% per year in any given year when the spawning stock is above 75 000 tonnes and within a maximum variation in TAC of 20% in any given year when the spawning stock is below 75 000 tonnes but above 50 000 tonnes.

Justification

The TAC should not vary more than plus or minus 20% from the current TAC in any given year in order to maintain catch stability in the fishery. Considering the importance of the fishery and the uncertainty of the assessment, cuts should be made in a controlled and well managed manner, as well as taking socio-economic factors into consideration. This TAC constraint allows a gradual approach to cutting TACs should the spawning biomass of the stock fall only marginally below the 75 000 tonnes and prevents a drastic cut in TACs which would be set by two different mortality targets.

Amendment  5

Proposal for a regulation

Article 4 - paragraph 2

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

2. When, according to the opinion of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STEFC), the spawning biomass of the stock will exceed 75 000 tonnes in the year for which the TAC is to be fixed, the TAC shall be set at a level which, according to the advice of STEFC, will result in a fishing mortality rate of 0.25 per year. If appropriate that level shall be adjusted in accordance with Article 5.

2. When, according to the opinion of STECF the spawning biomass of the stock will reach or exceed 75 000 tonnes in the year for which the TAC is to be fixed, the TAC shall be set at a level which, according to the advice of STECF, will result in a fishing mortality rate of 0.25 per year. If appropriate, that level shall be adjusted in accordance with Article 5.

Amendment  6

Proposal for a regulation

Article 4 - paragraph 3

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

3. When, according to the opinion of STEFC, the spawning biomass of the stock will be less than 75 000 tonnes but greater than 50 000 tonnes in the year for which the TAC is to be fixed, the TAC shall be set at a level which, according to the advice of the STEFC, will result in a fishing mortality rate of 0.2 per year.

3. When, according to the opinion of STECF, the spawning biomass of the stock will be less than 75 000 tonnes but greater than 50 000 tonnes in the year for which the TAC is to be fixed, the TAC shall be set at a level which, according to the advice of the STECF, will result in a fishing mortality rate of 0.2 per year. The TAC shall not deviate from the preceding year's TAC by more than 20% in any given year. If appropriate, that level shall be adjusted in accordance with Article 5(2)a and Article 5(2)b .

Justification

It is appropriate to have a gradual reduction of the fishing mortality which is consistent with the rules for setting the TACs.

Amendment  7

Proposal for a regulation

Article 4 - paragraph 4

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

4. When, according to the opinion of STEFC, the spawning of biomass of the stock will be less than 50 000 tonnes in the year for which the TAC is to be fixed, the TAC shall be set to 0 tonnes.

4. When, according to the opinion of STECF, the spawning of biomass of the stock will be less than 50 000 tonnes in the year for which the TAC is to be fixed, the TAC shall be subject to a strict recovery plan based on advice from ICES and STECF.

Justification

A complete closure of the fishery could represent a disproportionate response to the change in the spawning of biomass of the stock, for example when this is specified as being only very slightly below the 50 000 tonnes trigger point. In these circumstances, after taking advice from STECF, the fishery could remain open with a strict recovery plan in place. The Commission's assessment is uncertain and although the closure of fishing activities will be needed at certain points, it is inappropriate for the fishery to be automatically closed when the spawning stock was estimated to be only slightly below 50 000 tonnes.

Amendment  8

Proposal for a regulation

Article 4 - paragraph 5 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

5a. In any year when ICES and STECF are unable to provide estimates of spawning stock size or fishing mortalities, the TAC should remain unchanged from the previous year. However, in the second and each subsequent year during which no scientific forecast is available, the TAC should be reduced by 10% compared with the previous year.

Justification

These rules are included in order to be consistent with the precautionary approach when conditions are more uncertain.

Amendment  9

Proposal for a regulation

Article 5 - paragraph 2 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

2a. Where the application of the first sentence of Article 4(3) would result in a TAC level that exceeds the TAC for the preceding year by more than 20%, the Council shall adopt a TAC level which is only 20% greater than the TAC of that year.

Justification

According to the Commission Policy Statement on Fishing Opportunities for 2009 (doc. 10264/08 PECHE 130), a 20% limit on quota flexibility will apply on where the stocks are outside safe biological limits and the Commission will decrease the TAC by at least 20% where the ICES recommends closure. It is therefore necessary to have a maximum variation in TACs of 20% per year when the stock is between 50 000 and 75 000 tonnes.

Amendment  10

Proposal for a regulation

Article 5 - paragraph 2 b (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

2b. Where the application of the first sentence of Article 4(3) would result in a TAC level that is more than 20% below the TAC of the preceding year, the Council shall adopt a TAC level which is only 20% less than the TAC of that year.

Justification

According to the Commission Policy Statement on Fishing Opportunities for 2009 (doc. 10264/08 PECHE 130), a 20% limit on quota flexibility will apply on where the stocks are outside safe biological limits and the Commission will decrease the TAC by at least 20% where the ICES recommends closure. It is therefore necessary to have a maximum variation in TACs of 20% per year when the stock is between 50 000 and 75 000 tonnes.

Amendment  11

Proposal for a regulation

Article 6 - paragraph 4

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

4. Paragraph 3 shall not apply to vessels which transmit their catch report on a daily basis to the Fisheries Monitoring centre of the flag Member State, provided for in Article 3(7) of Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93, for inclusion in its computerised data base.

4. Paragraph 3 shall not apply to vessels which transmit their catch report on a daily basis and which, in any event, do so prior to departing the area West of Scotland, to the Fisheries Monitoring centre of the flag Member State, provided for in Article 3(7) of Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93, for inclusion in its computerised data base.

Justification

Large pelagic vessels, such as those used for fishing herring in the area West of Scotland, are able to transmit information on catch statistics electronically and without the need to return to port. Ensuring that vessels transmit the relevant catch report to the Fisheries Monitoring Centre before they leave the area West of Scotland prevents the misreporting of catch statistics.

Amendment  12

Proposal for a regulation

Article 8

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

Where the Commission, on the basis of advice from STEFC, finds that the fishing mortality rates and associated spawning stock biomass levels specified in Article 3(2) are not appropriate to achieving the objective specified in Article 3(1), the Council shall on the basis of a Commission proposal decide by qualified majority on a revision to those quantities.

Where the Commission, on the basis of advice from STECF, finds that the fishing mortality rates and associated spawning stock biomass levels specified in Article 3(2) are not appropriate to achieving the objective specified in Article 3(1), the Council shall, in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 37 of the Treaty, decide on a revision to those quantities.

Justification

Revision of minimum fishing mortality rates and associated spawning stock biomass levels are essential elements of the plan and shall be adopted under the normal current legislative procedure, following consultation of the European Parliament. According to recent case law (case C-133/06), the use of secondary legal basis infringes Community law.

Amendment  13

Proposal for a regulation

Article 9 - paragraph 1

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

1. The Commission shall seek advice each year from STECF and the Pelagic Regional Advisory Council on the achievement of the targets of the multi-annual plan. Where the advice indicates that the targets are not being met, the Council shall decide by a qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission on either or both additional and alternative measures to ensure that the targets are met.

1. The Commission shall seek advice each year from STECF and the Pelagic Regional Advisory Council on the achievement of the targets of the multi-annual plan. Furthermore, the Commission shall consider a second and independent recruitment index for West of Scotland herring stocks. Where the advice indicates that the targets are not being met, the Council shall decide, in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 37 of the Treaty, on either or both additional and alternative measures to ensure that the targets are met.

Justification

1. The data on which scientific assessments of West of Scotland herring stocks is based should be improved, as recommended by the exploratory (MIK) net survey in 2008 and 2009.

2. The review of the plan shall be adopted under the normal current legislative procedure, following consultation of the European Parliament. According to recent case law (case C-133/06), the use of secondary legal basis infringes Community law.

Amendment  14

Proposal for a regulation

Article 9 - paragraph 2

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

2. The Commission shall review the performance and operation of the multi-annual plan at intervals of not less than four years from the date of adoption of this Regulation. The Commission shall seek the advice of STECF and of the Pelagic Regional Advisory Council concerning the review. If appropriate the Council shall decide by a qualified majority on a proposal from the Commission on appropriate adaptations to the multi-annual plan.

2. The Commission shall review the performance and operation of the multi-annual plan at intervals of not less than four years from the date of adoption of this Regulation. The Commission shall seek the advice of STECF and of the Pelagic Regional Advisory Council concerning the review. If appropriate the Council shall decide, in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 37 of the Treaty, on appropriate adaptations to the multi-annual plan.

Justification

The review of the plan shall be adopted under the normal current legislative procedure, following consultation of the EP. According to recent case law (case C-133/06), the use of secondary legal basis infringes Community law.

Amendment  15

Proposal for a regulation

Article 10 - paragraph 1 a (new)

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

1a. For the purpose of Article 21(a)(i) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1198/2006 of 27 July 2006 on the European Fisheries Fund, measures for the implementation of Article 3(2)(c) of this Regulation shall be deemed to be a recovery plan within the meaning of Article 5 of Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002.

Justification

As the availability of funds is different for the management stage and the recovery stage of a plan, it is necessary to include this new paragraph in the context of measures for the implementation of Article 3(2)(c) of this Regulation.


EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Commission proposals

The Commission has tabled a proposal for a Council regulation to introduce a multi-annual management plan for West of Scotland herring. The West of Scotland area is defined as international and EU waters in ICES zones Vb and VIb and the northern part of ICES zone VIa excluding the Clyde. The proposal is based on STECF and ICES advice that a sustainable fishery can be maintained by managing annual mortality (measure of catches) at 0.25 when the stock size is above 75,000 tonnes and at 0.20 when the stock size falls below 75,000 tonnes, but remains above 50,000 tonnes. The fishery would be closed if spawning stock levels fall below 50,000 tonnes. Maximum variations in the TAC will be set at 15% per year when the spawning stock remains above 75,000 tonnes.

This strategy would be in line with the commitment to exploit fisheries according to maximum sustainable yields while aiming towards the progressive implementation of an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management. It would also ensure that exploitation of the stock was undertaken in a way compatible with sustainable environmental, economic and social conditions.

A similar plan for North Sea herring was introduced jointly with Norway in 1997 and has been generally successful. The Commission has entered into widespread consultation on the proposals for West of Scotland herring, particularly with the Pelagic RAC. Advice received during this consultation indicated that stocks in 2007 were slightly over-exploited in respect of maximum sustainable yield criteria. Fisheries Science Services (FSS) agrees with ICES advice that this stock is currently fluctuating at a low level and is being exploited slightly above maximum sustainable yield. Recognising the difficulties in re-building depleted cod stocks in the North Sea under the current cod recovery plan, it is felt by the Commission that the time to set up a long-term plan to ensure the sustainability of West of Scotland herring is now, when stocks are in reasonably good shape. FSS states that the management plan proposals for year-on-year TAC constraint has been tested and found to be in accordance with the precautionary approach.

The overall TAC in 2007 was 34,000 tonnes, the EU share of which was 33,340 tonnes. The TAC in 2007 was broken down as follows:

IRELAND 15.1%

GERMANY 11.2%

FRANCE 2.1%

NETHERLANDS 11.2%

UK 60.4%

Historically, catches have been taken in this area by three fisheries:

i.  A Scottish domestic pair trawl fleet and the Northern Ireland fleet, which operated in shallower, coastal areas, principally fishing in the Minches and around the island of Barra in the south where younger herring are found. This fleet has reduced in recent years.

ii.    The Scottish single-boat trawl and purse-seine fleets, with refrigerated seawater tanks, targeting herring mostly in the northern North Sea, but also operating in the northern part of VIa (N). This fleet now operates mostly with trawls, but many vessels can deploy either gear.

iii.   An international freezer-trawler fishery has historically operated in deeper water near the shelf edge where older fish are distributed. These vessels are mainly registered in the Netherlands, Germany, France and England, but most are Dutch-owned.

The Pelagic RAC has agreed to the introduction of a multi-annual management plan subject to certain technical issues. The Commission states that such a plan would not radically alter current levels of catches and that better management would result from setting TACs in the framework of a multi-annual plan. The Commission proposes to review the management plan every four years.

The multi-annual plan requires certain actions to be taken by the Community should stock levels fall below 75,000 tonnes. Such actions fall under the direct competence of the Community and are necessary under the proportionality principle on the basis that several Member States, including the UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany and France have historic fishing rights to enable them to fish in this area. The Commission propose that the multi-annual plan be based directly on Article 37 of the Treaty rather than of Article 6 of Council Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002.

Special fishing permits will be required for vessels fishing the stock and these vessels will not be allowed to fish both inside and outside the West of Scotland area on the same fishing trip unless they transmit their catch reports daily to the fisheries authorities in their flag state. Monitoring of licensed fishing vessels with permits to fish in the area will be conducted by utilising electronic log-books with daily transmission of catch reports to the Fisheries Monitoring Centre of the flag Member State, VMS and administrative cross-checks between landing declarations and recorded catches.

The view of the Pelagic RAC

The Pelagic RAC accepts that it is in the long term interests of everyone involved to ensure that West of Scotland herring stocks are well managed. Nevertheless, the Pelagic RAC believes that the harvest rule proposed by the Commission is too 'blunt' and could result in a reduction of the West of Scotland herring TAC for next year of 52%, which is not reflected in the impact assessment. Such dramatic reductions in TAC would run counter to Commission assertions that their proposalswould not radically alter current levels of catches.” The RAC point out that the 2006 re-issued ICES advice for West of Scotland herring TAC was for a rollover set at 34,000 tonnes. However, the ICES advice for the 2007 TAC was set at 15,000 tonnes. Such dramatic fluctuations would be damaging to the sector and the RAC underlines the need for catch stability to be a key consideration when moving to any new long-term management plan.

The Pelagic RAC wish to see a revision of the harvest rule to provide a maximum change in TAC of 20% where the biomass is less than 75,000 tonnes but equal to or greater than 50,000 tonnes. The RAC also wish to see a stock recovery plan to be put in place where the biomass falls below 50,000 tonnes, rather than a complete closure of the fishery. Current estimated spawning stock biomass is 66,510 tonnes.

In addition, the Pelagic RAC sought the assistance of the Fisheries Research Services Marine Laboratory to undertake an independent scientific survey of stock recruitment for herring in area VIa North in 2008 and 2009. These surveys are aimed at determining the feasibility and efficacy of the methodology being used to provide a recruitment index for West of Scotland herring, with a view to reducing the uncertainty of the stock assessment. Furthermore, the Pelagic RAC felt that it was important that the plan would reasonably deal with the transition of moving from no agreed management arrangements for this stock to the implementation of a long-term multi-annual plan, in order to avoid year-to-year changes in TAC that are of such magnitude they could destabilise the sector. The RAC recommended to the Commission that the TAC for 2008 should be set at 27,200 tonnes, corresponding to a cut of 20% as suggested in their amended management plan proposals. The TAC for 2008 was subsequently set at these levels.

Recommendations of the Rapporteur

1.   The introduction of a multi-annual management plan for the West of Scotland herring stock is welcomed.

2.   I do not agree with the Commission that a sustainable fishery can be maintained by managing annual mortality at 0.25 when the stock size is above 75,000 tonnes and at 0.20 when the stock size falls below 75,000 tonnes, but remains above 50,000 tonnes. Nor do I accept that the fishery should be closed if spawning stock levels fall below 50,000 tonnes. On the contrary, I accept the argument of the Pelagic RAC that such harvest rules represent a ‘blunt’ instrument which could lead to dramatic and unwarranted reductions in TAC and would thus undermine the viability of the fishery and destabilise the industry without adequate scientific justification.

3.   I further accept the argument of the Pelagic RAC that in those years when ICES and STECF can provide estimates of spawning stock size equal to or greater than 75,000 tonnes and can calculate a forecast catch corresponding to specific fishing mortalities, the TAC for the forthcoming year should be set at a fishing mortality of 0.25. However, to maintain catch stability in the fishery, the TAC should not vary more than plus or minus 15% from the current TAC in any given year.

4.   I also agree with the Pelagic RAC that in those years when ICES and STECF can provide estimates of spawning stock biomass at less than 75,000 tonnes but equal to or greater than 50,000 tonnes, the TAC for the following year should be set at 0.2. However, to maintain catch stability in the fishery, the TAC should not vary more than plus or minus 20% from the current TAC in any given year.

5.   I also agree with the Pelagic RAC that rather than complete closure of the fishery, a stock recovery plan should be put in place where the biomass falls below 50,000 tonnes, aimed at the rapid recovery of the stock to above 50,000 tonnes.

6.   I agree with the Pelagic RAC that in any year when ICES and STECF are unable to provide estimates of spawning stock size or fishing mortalities, the TAC should remain unchanged from the previous year. However, in the second and in each subsequent year during which no scientific forecast is available the TAC should be reduced by 10% compared to the previous year.

7.   I agree with the Commission that monitoring of licensed fishing vessels with permits to fish in the area should be conducted by utilising electronic log-books with daily transmission of catch reports to the Fisheries Monitoring Centre of the flag Member State, VMS and administrative cross-checks between landing declarations and recorded catches.

8.   I agree with the Commission that vessels with the Single Area Licence should not be permitted to fish outside the area of the West of Scotland during the same fishing trip. However, vessels which transmit their catch report on a daily basis to the Fisheries Monitoring centre of the flag member state, and always prior to departing the area West of Scotland, should be allowed to fish outside the area West of Scotland during the same fishing trip to avoid unnecessary return to ports and misreporting of catch statistics.

9.   It is important that the data on which scientific assessments of West of Scotland herring stocks is based should be improved. In addition to the current acoustic surveys conducted to obtain abundance indices for adult herring, I therefore support the exploratory (MIK) net survey in 2008 and 2009 to determine the feasibility and efficacy of this method, to provide a second and independent recruitment index for West of Scotland herring and I commend this initiative to the Commission.

10. I further agree with the Commission that the management plan should be reviewed every four years on the basis of STECF advice. However, should any modifications be proposed following such a review, it must be after full consultation with the Pelagic RAC and the European Parliament.


PROCEDURE

Title

Herring stocks in the west of Scotland

References

COM(2008)0240 – C6-0204/2008 – 2008/0091(CNS)

Date of consulting Parliament

26.5.2008

Committee responsible

       Date announced in plenary

PECH

4.6.2008

Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)

       Date announced in plenary

ENVI

4.6.2008

 

 

 

Not delivering opinions

       Date of decision

ENVI

28.5.2008

 

 

 

Rapporteur(s)

       Date appointed

Struan Stevenson

19.6.2008

 

 

Date adopted

5.11.2008

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

23

3

1

Members present for the final vote

Stavros Arnaoutakis, Elspeth Attwooll, Marie-Hélène Aubert, Iles Braghetto, Niels Busk, Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos, Paulo Casaca, Zdzisław Kazimierz Chmielewski, Avril Doyle, Emanuel Jardim Fernandes, Carmen Fraga Estévez, Hélène Goudin, Heinz Kindermann, Rosa Miguélez Ramos, Marianne Mikko, Philippe Morillon, Seán Ó Neachtain, Maria Grazia Pagano, Ulrike Rodust, Struan Stevenson, Catherine Stihler, Cornelis Visser

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

Marie-Hélène Descamps, Michl Ebner, Véronique Mathieu, Josu Ortuondo Larrea, Raül Romeva i Rueda, Thomas Wise

Last updated: 19 November 2008Legal notice