Agreement on the distribution of maximum fishing opportunities for 2011

On December 15th, EU member States reached an agreement on the maximum quantities of fish than can be caught by EU vessels in the waters of the Atlantic and the North Sea and in international waters, and their distribution between national fleets. This type of decision is taken each year by the Council of the European Union.

The amount of each species of fish that can be taken in a given area is defined in what are known as total allowable catches (TACs) and the allocation to individual member states is fixed in quotas.

The aim is to achieve sustainable exploitation of marine resources. Many stocks have been overfished, and management of the fishing effort must ensure that EU fisheries are ecologically, economically and socially sustainable, and that resources remain within biologically safe limits.

Some stocks have shown improvement, such as herring, sole and hake in some fishing zones, whereas others remain vulnerable. The establishment of fishing opportunities is based on scientific advice and a precautionary approach. It must establish a balance between the interests of the European fishing industry that should both be sustainable and profitable, and the protection and preservation of dwindling fish populations.

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