EU ministers reach agreement on fishing opportunities for 2022

Brussels – EU ministers in charge of fisheries have reached an agreement on fishing rights in the Atlantic, the North Sea, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea for 2022 based on a proposal drawn up by the Slovenian presidency, Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek has announced.

The deal, reached on Tuesday morning during the Agriculture and Fisheries Council session in Brussels, sets out the catch limits for over 200 commercial fish stocks. A deal on shared fish stocks with the UK has not been hashed out yet and talks continue.

Podgoršek described the negotiations, which started on Sunday morning, as tough.

In preparing the compromise proposal the presidency followed a series of principles, above all sustainable use of sources, with emphasis on the precautionary approach and the achievement of maximum sustainable yield for fish stocks, based on scientific advice as well as ensuring the socio-economic interest in the availability of food supplies, the competitiveness of the maritime economy and the livelihoods of coastal communities, he said.

“We’ve respected the regulatory and maximum sustainable yield limits, and the proposal also rewards those who make it possible through other measures for the population to recover,” said Pogoršek.

The measures agreed today are good not only for the marine environment. They are also timely and future-oriented social and economic measures, said Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius.

The Slovenian minister was optimistic that agreement with the UK could be reached by 20 December. Until a final agreement is reached provisional catch limits will be applied. “There’s still a chance to reach agreement on time and to correct those quotas into quotas for 2022,” Podgoršek told reporters.

In December each year, the Agriculture and Fisheries Council sets the following year’s catch limits based on a proposal drawn up by the European Commission, taking into account the best available scientific advice, the aims of the common fisheries policy and the maximum sustainable yield set for each species.

Already yesterday EU agriculture ministers endorsed a new contingency plan drawn up by the European Commission to ensure food supply and security in times of crisis.

They stressed the need to prepare the food system for potential risks and to build on the lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic in responding to future crises.

“The conclusions reflect the member states’ commitment to protect food supply in Europe against potential threats. Based on the lessons learned from the pandemic, we can ensure that our response to future crises will be coordinated at the EU level and will allow for the uninterrupted flow of people, goods and services across borders,” said Podgoršek.

The contingency plan is to help the EU tackle challenges such as extreme weather events, plant and animal health issues and the shortage of key inputs such as fertilisers, energy and labour.

The ministers also discussed unfair trading practices in the food supply chain.

“Improving the position of farmers in the food supply chain is one of the priorities of the Slovenian presidency, and for me personally, because as a former food supply chain relationships ombudsman I follow the functioning of the supply chains and the relationships between stakeholders with particular attention, with a focus on the position of farmers as the weakest negotiator,” said Podgoršek.

The ministers yesterday also reviewed the preparation of the strategic plans for the common agriculture policy that member states need to submit to the Commission by 1 January 2022.