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European Commission proposes 2008 fishing opportunities for the Black Sea

Date: 22.11.2007

For the first time since the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union on 1 January 2007, the European Commission is now proposing fishing opportunities for fish stocks in the Black Sea, the press service of teh European Commission informs.

The Commission proposes for 2008 a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 90 tonnes for turbot, and a TAC of 15,000 tonnes for sprat, the two main commercial stocks targeted by the Bulgarian and Romanian fleets. These proposals are based on advice from a working group of leading Bulgarian and Romanian fisheries scientists which met in September, and from the Commission's own Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STCEF) which has reviewed the working group's report. While the sprat stock in the Black Sea is in a very good state, turbot have been under heavy fishing pressure for a while, and the TAC has been set at a low level in order to allow the stock to recover.

The TAC for sprat is unallocated, while the TAC for turbot would be divided equally between the two countries. The proposal also sets out technical measures for the turbot fishery, specifically a minimum mesh size of 180 mm and a minimum landing size of 45 cm. These measures harmonise the existing provisions which prevailed in Bulgaria and Romania prior to accession. The minimum mesh size is transitional, and will be increased to 200 mm after a period to allow the Bulgarian fleet to adapt.

There are plans to increase data collection and scientific research on fish stocks in the Black Sea, which remain relatively under-researched compared to those in other EU waters. Better knowledge and increased data may in future years lead to proposals for further TACs for other Black Sea fish stocks.
The Commission continues to attach great importance to promoting cooperation in fisheries management between all the Black Sea countries. To this end, the Commission is promoting an international conference bringing together all the Black Sea countries to discuss regional fisheries cooperation to be held in Turkey in early 2008. Turkey is the major fisheries actor in the Black Sea region, and its fleet currently accounts for approximately 85% of commercial catches.

Bulgaria's coastal fishing fleet comprises around 2,200 vessels most of which are small scale fishing boats and around 85 vessels are over 12 meters in length.

Landings amount to around 17,500 tonnes annually and 90% of these are sprat and sea snail (rapana venosa). Sprat (7,200 tons in 2005) is caught mainly by large trawlers, alongside anchovy, horse mackerel, whiting and Black Sea shad in smaller quantities. Rapana venosa (8,200 tonnes in 2005) is a large sea snail which is hand picked from the seabed by divers. Other small scale fishery targets bluefish, Black Sea turbot, common spiny and Atlantic bonito.

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