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Evolution of EU technical measures for the avoidance of unwanted catch in the light of scientific evaluation and advice from the STECF; the good, the bad, and the ugly

The EU deploys technical measures (TMs) to avoid unwanted catches—here, overquota catches and juveniles of commercial species—including gear specifications and closures. In 2012, the European Commission had asked its advisory committee, Scientific, Technical, and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), to evaluate the TMs and provide recommendations for improvement. In 2012–2013, STECF judged that the TMs had failed to achieve their objectives and identified approaches for improvement: (1) regionalization and move away from top-down management; (2) bottom-up results-based management to internalize the costs to the resource into individual businesses; and (3) abandon threshold percentages of bycatch leading to perverse incentives. In 2014, the new EU Common Fisheries Policy came in force, with a landing obligation (LO), and regionalization. In 2019, the new TM regulation (TMR) came in force. Besides sets of regional baseline measures, the TMR allows for regional proposals for amendments and results-based bottom-up approaches (“the good”). However, the LO is not enforced, therefore, not providing the incentive for change in fishing practices; and despite avoidance strategies being available regional, innovative bottom-up practices are still rare (“the bad”). TMs still contain threshold percentages (“the ugly”). The onus for bottom-up initiatives is on the industry, although new governance structures are needed to facilitate this.



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