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Multiannual plan for fish stocks in the Western Waters and adjacent waters

Multiannual plan for fish stocks in the Western Waters and adjacent waters



Regulation (EU) 2019/472 establishing a multiannual plan for stocks fished in the Western Waters and adjacent waters, and for fisheries exploiting those stocks


In accordance with the EU strategy for the marine environment and the United Nations Convention of 10 December 1982 on the Law of the Sea, it aims to:

  • manage fisheries in Western Waters;
  • restore and maintain populations of harvested species above levels which can produce maximum sustainable yield (MSY)*; and
  • avoid and reduce unwanted catches.

The EU fishing fleet concerned mainly includes vessels from Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom (1).


The regulation establishes a multiannual plan* for the fish stocks listed below, including deep-sea stocks, in specified areas of the Western Waters and adjacent waters:

  • black scabbardfish (Aphanopus carbo);
  • roundnose grenadier (Coryphaenoides rupestris);
  • seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax);
  • cod (Gadus morhua);
  • megrims (Lepidorhombus spp.);
  • anglerfish (Lophiidae);
  • haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus);
  • whiting (Merlangius merlangus);
  • hake (Merluccius merluccius);
  • blue ling (Molva dypterygia);
  • Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus);
  • red seabream (Pagellus bogaraveo);
  • plaice (Pleuronectes platessa);
  • pollack (Pollachius pollachius);
  • common sole (Solea solea).

The regulation also applies to by-catches* caught in the Western Waters when fishing for the stocks listed above.

The plan contributes to:

  • the common fisheries policy (CFP), in particular by applying a precautionary approach to fisheries management and ensuring that exploitation of fish stocks restores and maintains populations above levels which can produce maximum sustainable yield;
  • eliminating discarded fish by avoiding and reducing unwanted catches;
  • implementing the landing obligation for species with catch limits.

It takes an ecosystem-based approach* to fisheries management to minimise negative impacts of fishing on the marine ecosystem.

Target fishing mortality *

The target fishing mortality, a range for which is set out for each species and area covered by the regulation, must be achieved as soon as possible, and progressively at least by 2020, and be maintained after this date. The ranges, based on scientific advice and subject to revision by the European Commission to take urgent account of changing circumstances, provide flexibility to react to situations linked to mixed fisheries and to contribute to the landing obligation.


Fishing opportunities are designed to ensure that there is less than a 5% probability of the spawning stock falling below the reference limit, and specific conservation measures are put in place when scientific advice is that a stock is under threat.

By-catch management

Management of by-catch stocks including, where appropriate, fishing opportunities takes into account the best available scientific advice, and the challenges arising from fishing all stocks at MSY at the same time, especially in situations where that leads to the authorities closing fisheries prematurely to conserve stocks.

Technical measures

The Commission is empowered to adopt delegated acts to supplement this regulation regarding the following technical measures:

  • specifications of (or modifications to) fishing gears (equipment) and rules on their use;
  • prohibition or limitation on fishing in specific areas;
  • prohibition or limitation on fishing or the use of certain types of fishing gear during specific time periods;
  • minimum conservation reference sizes of fish.

The Council determines each year the technical measures designed to control fishing for sole in the Western Channel.

Other provisions

When scientific advice indicates that recreational fishing is having a significant impact on fishing mortality of a stock the Council may set non-discriminatory limits for recreational fishing, based on transparent and objective criteria, including environmental, social and economic issues.

For each Western Waters zone each EU country issues fishing authorisations in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 for vessels flying its flag and which operate in that area. They may also limit the total capacity of such vessels using a specific gear. The Commission can set limits on the total fleet capacity of the country concerned.

Where stocks are also fished by non-EU countries, the EU will engage to ensure their sustainable management, and may exchange fishing opportunities.

Evaluating the plan every 5 years, the Commission reports to the European Parliament and to the Council on the results and impact of the plan on the stocks to which the regulation applies and on the fisheries exploiting those stocks.


It has applied since 26 March 2019.


See also:


Maximum sustainable yield (MSY): the highest theoretical amount (‘equilibrium yield’) that can be continuously taken on average from a stock under existing average environmental conditions without significantly affecting the reproduction process.
Multiannual plan: management plan for fisheries with the objective of ensuring fish stocks are exploited within safe biological limits.
By-catch (also ‘bycatch’): unwanted fish and marine species caught unintentionally.
Ecosystem-based approach: an integrated approach to managing fisheries which seeks to manage the use of natural resources while preserving both the biological wealth and the biological processes necessary to safeguard the composition, structure and functioning of the habitats of the ecosystem affected.
Fishing mortality: catches over a given period as a proportion of the average stock available to the fishery in that period.


Regulation (EU) 2019/472 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 March 2019 establishing a multiannual plan for stocks fished in the Western Waters and adjacent waters, and for fisheries exploiting those stocks, amending Regulations (EU) 2016/1139 and (EU) 2018/973, and repealing Council Regulations (EC) No 811/2004, (EC) No 2166/2005, (EC) No 388/2006, (EC) No 509/2007 and (EC) No 1300/2008 (OJ L 83, 25.3.2019, pp. 1-17)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EU) 2019/472 have been incorporated into the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Regulation (EU) 2018/973 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 July 2018 establishing a multiannual plan for demersal stocks in the North Sea and the fisheries exploiting those stocks, specifying details of the implementation of the landing obligation in the North Sea and repealing Council Regulations (EC) No 676/2007 and (EC) No 1342/2008 (OJ L 179, 16.7.2018, pp. 1-13)

See consolidated version.

Regulation (EU) 2016/1139 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2016 establishing a multiannual plan for the stocks of cod, herring and sprat in the Baltic Sea and the fisheries exploiting those stocks, amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2187/2005 and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1098/2007 (OJ L 191, 15.7.2016, pp. 1-15)

See consolidated version.

Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 of 20 November 2009 establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the common fisheries policy, amending Regulations (EC) No 847/96, (EC) No 2371/2002, (EC) No 811/2004, (EC) No 768/2005, (EC) No 2115/2005, (EC) No 2166/2005, (EC) No 388/2006, (EC) No 509/2007, (EC) No 676/2007, (EC) No 1098/2007, (EC) No 1300/2008, (EC) No 1342/2008 and repealing Regulations (EEC) No 2847/93, (EC) No 1627/94 and (EC) No 1966/2006 (OJ L 343, 22.12.2009, pp. 1-50)

See consolidated version.

Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 establishing a framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive) (OJ L 164, 25.6.2008, pp. 19-40)

See consolidated version.

last update 28.10.2019

(1) The United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union and becomes a third country (non-EU country) as of 1 February 2020.