Baltic Sea fishing opportunities for 2022
The Council agreed on the total allowable catches (TACs) and member states' quotas for the ten most commercially important fish stocks in the Baltic Sea for 2022. The agreement determines the quantities of each species that member states will be allowed to catch in 2022 and also sets out certain conditions for fishing vessels operating in the region.
The agreement includes a number of changes to the previous year’s TACs. In particular:
-Due to low biomass levels, the TAC for herring in the Western part of the Baltic Sea was limited to bycatches and was reduced by 50%; in the Central Baltic it was cut by 45%.
-Given the lack of improvement in cod stocks, the Council continued the practice of setting only a specific TAC for bycatches. This was also the case for salmon in the Main Basin, although the TAC for salmon stocks in the Gulf of Finland saw a moderate increase.
The TACs for plaice and sprat were increased by 25% and 13% respectively.
Today’s agreement strikes a balance between supporting EU fishermen and women and ensuring the long-term sustainability of fish stocks in the Baltic region. It is based on sound scientific advice and reflects the Council’s commitment to upholding the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy while also addressing environmental concerns.
Jože Podgoršek, Slovenian Minister for Agriculture
Infographic - Fishing quotas after Brexit
UK fish stocks
Ministers held an exchange of views on fishing opportunities for stocks shared with the United Kingdom for 2022. Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, consultations with the UK on shared fish stocks are set to take place annually in line with the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. The delegations provided guidance to the Commission on the position to be taken by the EU in these consultations. In particular, they emphasised the need to base TACs on scientific advice and to comply with the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy, taking the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainability into account. Many member states also reiterated the importance of presenting a united front in these negotiations. In the margins of the meeting, a number of member states signed a political declaration on the UK’s decision not to grant fishing licences to a number of French fishing vessels in the waters of Jersey and Guernsey. This declaration supported France’s position and called on the UK to respect the provisions of the TCA.
EU-Norway and Coastal States fishing consultations for 2022
Ministers held an exchange of views on consultations with Norway and the Coastal States for fishing opportunities in 2022. Negotiations with Norway are due to take place between mid-October and late November, with Coastal State consultations commencing in late October. Delegations discussed the EU’s priorities and prepared the ground for these consultations.
EU participation in Atlantic tuna meeting
Ministers were asked to provide guidance to the Commission on the position to be taken by the EU at the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), which this year will take place from 15-22 November. The discussion included, inter alia, proposed measures to manage tropical tuna (in particular bigeye tuna) and protect the shortfin mako shark, the recovery of bluefin tuna stocks, and the importance of avoiding a negative impact on small-scale and artisanal fisheries. ICCAT is responsible for ensuring the long-term conservation and sustainable use of fishery resources and safeguarding marine ecosystems. Its recommendations have direct implications for the EU’s annual fishing opportunities.
CAP Strategic Plans
Under the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which will cover the period 2023-2027, member states are asked to prepare strategic plans detailing how they will implement the provisions of the policy. Ministers discussed the state of play of the preparation of their plans, identified any challenges they were facing and reflected on the public consultation processes carried out with relevant stakeholders. They also called on the Commission to adopt a transparent approach to evaluating the plans, for example by providing clear assessment criteria and ensuring that as many guidance documents as possible are made public.
EU marketing standards
Ministers held an exchange of views on the revision of EU marketing standards for agricultural products. They underlined the importance of marketing standards and acknowledged the need to examine ways to improve them further, in particular with a view to contributing to greater sustainability, while also providing clear information to consumers and maintaining the competitiveness of EU products on the international market. Moreover, many of them expressed support for the Slovenian presidency’s proposal to revise the rules on labelling honey blends so as to indicate the countries of origin of the honey used in the blends.
EU marketing standards set out minimum requirements for products that are traded between businesses or marketed to consumers. The EU’s Farm to Fork strategy envisages a revision of marketing standards aimed at increasing the sustainability of the food supply chain. Other considerations include the need to modernise certain standards and bring them in line with consumer expectations.
Updating the rules on honey blend labelling is a key priority of the Slovenian presidency and the support expressed by member states today brings us a step closer to achieving this important aim.
Jože Podgoršek, Slovenian Minister for Agriculture
New EU Forest Strategy for 2030
Ministers discussed the Commission’s Communication on the new EU Forest Strategy for 2030, which was published on 16 July 2021. This strategy, which is anchored in the European Green Deal, aims to adapt Europe’s forests to respond to threats such as climate change, maintain forests’ role as carbon sinks and preserve and restore ecosystems, while also ensuring sustainable management of forest resources.
Ministers welcomed the strategy but stressed the importance of balancing environmental goals with the crucial economic and social roles that Europe’s forests play. Ministers underlined that the strategy needs to take into account national specificities and existing national strategies and measures, in full respect of the principle of subsidiarity, and that adequate funding should be provided. The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on the strategy at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in November.
Infographic - How the EU delivers the green transition
Fit for 55
An exchange of views took place on the potential contribution of the agriculture and forestry sectors to the new Fit for 55 package. Ministers discussed the challenges and opportunities posed by the initiative. Points raised included the possible overlap with the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the need for the different starting points of member states to be taken into account when setting climate objectives. A key message from ministers was that the primary CAP objective of food security should always be guaranteed. A number of delegations also called for an impact assessment of the package to be carried out. Regarding forests, ministers acknowledged their essential role as carbon sinks and in preserving biodiversity, but highlighted that the main challenge will be to balance the more ambitious environmental targets for forestry with the social and economic aspects of forest sustainability.
Fit for 55 is a set of interconnected proposals adopted by the Commission on 14 July with the aim of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). Three of the proposals have a clear connection to agriculture and forestry as they involve the revision of three key regulations:
-the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry Regulation (LULUCF);
-the Effort Sharing Regulation;
-the Renewable Energy Directive.
Other topics on the agenda
On the first day of the Council meeting, ministers received information from delegations on a number of topics, including Turkish IUU fishing in Greek territorial waters, the high price of fertiliser, the situation in the pig meat sector, the recent meeting of G20 agriculture ministers, the upcoming revision of the European quality policy, and a proposal to extend the temporary framework for State aid. On the second day the presidency provided an update on the recent United Nations Food Systems Summit, the Spanish delegation presented its proposed candidate to chair the UN Committee on World Food Security, and the Danish delegation called for the revision of the EU’s animal welfare legislation.
-11 October 2021
-12 October 2021