The fishing quota reached a "new historical maximum" aimed at securing the most sustainable yield by 2020, given the current state of fishing stocks. Stocks will increase by 21% in 2019.
Portugal has achieved an increase in its fishing quota for 2019, to 131,000 tons, its largest since records began, the minister for the sea, Ana Paula Vitorino, said after a meeting of the European Union’s fisheries council in Brussels.
“We have very good news for Portugal, for our fishermen and fishing owners, with an increase of 24% of the total possible catches, to 131,000 tons,” she said in the early hours of Wednesday after what was, as usual, a marathon meeting of EU ministers.
The new total, she stressed, “is a new historical maximum” aimed at securing the maximum sustainable yield by 2020, given the state of fishing stocks.
Where commercially important species were concerned, the minister stressed the fact that the quota for 2019 is unchanged, whereas the European Commission had proposed a 14% cut.
In the case of monkfish, a 5% increase in catches is foreseen, instead of the 2% initially proposed.
The catch for bluefin tuna – popular with the sushi connoisseurs – can increase by 11% in 2019, while that for rays is to rise 10%, when it was to have been unchanged.
As for cod, Portugal’s fishing fleet is to enjoy a 12% increase for all three quotas for this species, including in the NAFO (north-west Atlantic) areas, off the coast of Canada.
Portuguese non-governmental organizations campaigning for the preservation of fishing stocks, however, accused EU ministers of once more “taking many decisions above scientific opinions”, marking a “stagnation” of the “slowly positive trend” seen in previous years. They noted that species of particular interest to Portugal appeared to be given less protection than others.
Scientists’ submissions were “disrespected for the stocks with less robust information – such as plaice, sole, and rays – even when the catch of recent years has been close to or even below that of scientific opinions”, the PONG-Pesca platform quoted its president, Gonçalo Carvalho, as saying. “The requirement to follow the best scientific opinions applies to all stocks”.
“For those that have less robust scientific data, it is still more crucial to take a precautionary approach and respect the recommendations,” he concluded.