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Review of implementing acts concerning the closure of vulnerable marine ecosystems

Question écrite de Mme Izaskun BILBAO BARANDICA - Commission européenne

Question de Mme Izaskun BILBAO BARANDICA,

Diffusée le 8 avril 2024

Subject: Review of implementing acts concerning the closure of vulnerable marine ecosystems

Regulation (EU) 2016/2336 requires the Commission to adopt – on the basis of the best scientific information available – implementing acts to determine the list of areas where vulnerable marine ecosystems are likely to occur. ICES scientists warned that a large scale was used for the mapping – designed to cover the entire Northeast Atlantic but not coastal areas – and for possible closures. This initial approach alone hinders application of the best science in this process, disregarding better data from EU-funded projects (LIFE+, INDEMARES and INTEMARES).

In view of this:

1. Do the terms of reference drawn up by the Commission to seek ICES’s opinion allow higher- resolution contributions from the Member States to be taken into account?

2. Is ICES the only source of the science and knowledge underpinning the Commission’s implementing acts, thereby excluding evidence and data published by other recognised scientific bodies?

3. Taking into account the best data available and the serious socioeconomic impact of these closures on the longline fleet, why has the Commission not amended its 2022 decision, given that it is obliged to review annually the impact of its implementing acts?

Submitted:9.4.2024

Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 22 mai 2024

Answer given by Mr Sinkevičius on behalf of the European Commission (23 May 2024)

The Implementing Act (EU)2022/1614 (1) determines the deep-sea fishing footprint and establishes a list of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) areas, based on the advice of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) (2).

The scientific basis for the polygons, set by ICES, is at c-square resolution of 0.05° latitude x 0.05° longitude, a horizontal and peer-reviewed approach, which allows for individual fishing vessel anonymity around the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS)/logbook data.

This is the resolution that data providers (i.e. ICES member countries) have agreed to provide when sending data to ICES and which has been validated in the context of the Advisory Councils and of the EU Data Collection Framework.

The same c-square resolution, based on the ICES advice, is already applied for the VMEs closures in the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) since 2019, where the EU fleet is operating.

On the socioeconomic impacts of the VMEs closures, the preliminary conclusions of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) analysis, published in 2023 (3), indicate that overall and for all scenarios combined ‘the impact would not exceed 10% of the Gross Value Added (GVA). The most affected fleet segments across all scenarios would be Spanish trawlers and seiners 18-24 meters (87 closures)’.

STECF has recommended to carry out a fuller socioeconomic analysis to find out the impact at a local level, based on individual vessel information rather than at fleet level, and this process, which has started in 2023, is ongoing in 2024 (4).

1 ∙ ⸱ Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2022/1614 of 15 September 2022 determining the existing deep-sea fishing areas and establishing a list of areas

where vulnerable marine ecosystems are known to occur or are likely to occur. 2 ∙ ⸱ ICES. 2021. EU Request to advise on the list of areas where VMEs are known to occur or are likely to occur and on the existing deep-sea fishing areas (ref. (EU)2016/2336). 3 ∙ ⸱

Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) — 73rd PLENARY REPORT (STECF-PLEN-23-02) and Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) — 74rd PLENARY REPORT (STECF-PLEN-23-03), https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/1c8fa615-d9dd-11ee-b9d9-01aa75ed71a1/language-en 4 ∙ ⸱ Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) — 75rd PLENARY REPORT (STECF-PLEN-24-01): https://stecf.jrc.ec.europa.eu/documents/d/stecf/stecf_plen_24-01







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