Summary: The European Union's Fisheries Ministers clinched a deal in the early hours of December 18 setting next year's Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas for the EU fishing fleet. Although the Ministers raised the ceilings for 25 of the 117 TACs the European Commission proposed, the package confirms the general trend over past few years to progressively cut catches. The most difficult item on the Council agenda was agreeing the TAC and quota for bluefin tuna in the East Atlantic and Mediterranean - treated as a separate item - which Italy and Greece voted against.

The TAC and quota package was agreed relatively swiftly, and the only note of dissent came from Italy, which chose to abstain rather than support the Austrian Presidency compromise. Despite fears over Austria's inexperience in both fisheries and EU mechanics, the Presidency proved remarkably adept at hammering out the annual TAC and quota Regulation. The main problem for the Ministers concerned the allocation of the EU's lucrative bluefin tuna catch. This was this was only the second year the Council voted on tuna - which sells for ECU 10,000 a tonne on the Japanese market - but it was still a sensitive issue for the EU's southern Members who trawl the fish in the East Atlantic and Mediterranean. The problem was that, under new rules, Greece and Italy were to be penalised with lower quotas next year because they over-fished during previous Summers. This meant that the EU's overall TAC of 20,165 tonnes in 1999 works out at a net 16,136 tonnes after the penalties. Greece was set to see its quota halved to just 126 tonnes as a result of the penalties. The Commission tried to find the Greeks and Italians an extra allocation from the other Member States' quotas, arguing that such a cut would devastate the local industry. And Italy argued that in 1996 - a reference year for which it was penalised - it was not a member of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna, the body responsible for setting overall tuna quotas, so the decision to penalise Italian fishermen was unfair. But the Ministers decided the Fisheries Council was not the right forum in which to discuss the redistribution of tuna allowances, and so for the moment at least, the quotas are as follows: France: 6,413 tonnes; Spain: 5,555 tonnes , Italy: 3,463 tonnes; Portugal: 519 tonnes; and Greece: 126 tonnes. Fewer battles. But the main package of TACs and quotas in the EU's waters was agreed...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT