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Sardine capture. (Photo: Juan Murias/Copyright: FIS)

ICES recommends full ban on sardines

  (SPAIN, 10/23/2017)

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has advised the European Commission to suspend fishing for sardine in Atlantic and Cantabrian waters during 2018, which implies setting a total allowable catch (TAC) of zero.

According to the scientific body, the population of this species has experienced a severe crash and it is necessary to stop its catch next year to allow it to reproduce and recover.

ICES scientists explain that according to the recruitment data, the productivity of the sardine population has been falling since 2006, "so the probability of it recovering within five years to certain limits is very low."

ICES opinion confirms the position announced a few months ago, when scientists pointed out that for this fishing zone it would be necessary to keep catches at zero for 15 years in order for the sardine population to reach levels that they consider "acceptable."

If the ban recommended by scientists is implemented in 2018, the drastic measure will affect the inshore fleet of the Basque Country and the rest of the Cantabrian coast and Portugal.

Although ICES recommendation is not binding and the sardine is not subject to quota, the position of the scientific body that advises the EU marks the way of the joint management plan to be agreed by the Spanish and Portuguese Governments, in which the fishing quotas for 2018 will be set under the close watch of Brussels.

The Galician purse seine has already warned that "it will struggle" to get the final agreement to approach the catch volumes registered last year, reported La Opinión de A Coruña.

Meanwhile, Portugal's Minister of Marine Affairs, Ana Paula Vitorino, said that the Portuguese Executive will propose in negotiations that the catch limit be set "between 13,500 and 14,000 tonnes" in areas VIIIc (from Finisterre to the Gulf of Biscay) and IXa (from Finisterre to the Gulf of Cadiz), compared to 17,000 tonnes this year.

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