ICES report finds North Sea herring and hake stocks good, but cod and flatfish still depleted

October 24, 2006

Brussels, 23 October 2006

Norwegian herring has reached healthy levels and the Northern hake is making a comeback, but stocks of sandeel, anchovy and cod are still depleted in the North Sea, according to a report published by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) on 20 October.

ICES' Advisory Committee on Fishery Management (ACFM), composed of 22 international scientists, recommends allowing higher catches of Norwegian spring-spawning herring in 2007 because the stock has reached 'sustainable levels' in the North Sea.

The Northern hake also appears to have recovered after being depleted in the 1990s, ICES said, and therefore recommends allowing slightly higher catches in 2007.

Martin Pastoors, ACFM Chair said: 'It is good to see that prudent management can safeguard and rebuild the valuable resources in the sea. The Norwegian spring spawning herring stock is at a high level due to a rational exploitation strategy. Also the apparent recovery of the Northern hake stock is a positive signal.'

However, other species such as cod, anchovy and sand eel are still depleted and ICES recommends zero-catches next year.

ICES also calls for a reduction in catches of plaice, sole, blue whiting and suggests that no catches should be allowed for sharks, which it said are depleted.

EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg welcomed the 'positive elements' in the ICES report. He said: 'firstly, it shows that our long term approach to the management of EU fisheries is starting to bear some fruit. Secondly, it underlines the benefits derived from the growing participation of stakeholders in the scientific process. This should encourage us all to redouble our efforts to reverse the decline in our fisheries and to move gradually towards sustainable catches and a stable fishing sector.'

The Advisory Committee on Fishery Management (ACFM), advises European governments on fishing quotas to protect North Sea stocks from over fishing.

The European Commission's Fisheries Committee will now examine the report before it tables its proposals for 2007 TACs (total allowable catches) and quotas by December, for discussion at the December Fisheries Council.

For further information on ICES, please visit: http://www.ices.dk/indexfla.asp

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