North Sea plan for fisheries: Council ready to negotiate with the EP

On 25 April 2017 the Council agreed its negotiating position, also referred to as a general approach, on the multi-annual plan for demersal stocks in the North Sea. The plan will be the first comprehensive long-term strategy for the North Sea aimed at managing a variety of species, fishing vessels and interested parties.

As soon as the European Parliament votes on its report, negotiations between the institutions can start.


The Council position on the North Sea plan is in line with the recently agreed multi-annual plan for the stocks of cod, herring and sprat in the Baltic Sea. It simplifies the Commission proposal by focusing the scope of the regulation on the targeted fisheries over their entire area of distribution, and it provides the means that will guarantee the management of fish stocks through maximum sustainable yield (MSY) ranges. In line with the Common Fisheries Policy, the general approach also provides a very clear approach for the management of choke species in the case of mixed fisheries.

The Council confirmed the Commission proposal in relation to conservation measures for the covered stocks, and increases its effectiveness by also rationalising the scope of the landing obligation in order to achieve the objective of more sustainable fisheries in all sea basins.

The administrative burden linked to the new legislation and stemming from additional control provisions should be reduced as a result of the changes proposed by the Council, which also address the issue of consultations with third countries for jointly-managed stocks to ensure a level-playing field for Union operators.

Next steps

The general approach adopted 25.04.2017 is the Council's position for talks with the European Parliament. The Parliament should adopt its position on this proposal in June 2017. This would allow negotiations to start before the summer break. Both institutions must agree on the text before it can enter into force.


The Commission submitted its proposal for a multi-annual plan for demersal stocks in the North Sea and the fisheries exploiting those stocks on 3 August 2016. The proposal covers those fish species that live and feed near the bottom of the sea.

It is the second multi-annual plan adopted in line with the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) that came into force in January 2014. The objective of the proposal is to implement in the North Sea key aspects of the reform CFP, such as: the achievement of exploitation rates above maximum sustainable yield, the establishment of safeguards related to the state of biomass, the move towards long-term multi-species management, the implementation of the landing obligation and the use of regionalisation for the adoption of technical measures.

Read the whole press release

Text of the Council general approach on the multi-annual plan for demersal stocks in the North Sea