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Oceans and fisheries
News announcement13 December 2022Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries3 min read

AGRIFISH Council adopts 2023 fishing opportunities for the Atlantic, Kattegat and Skagerrak

Fishing vessel in the North Atlantic © Bruno Barracuda/Adobe Stock
Fishing vessel in the North Atlantic © Bruno Barracuda/Adobe Stock

Today, the Council of fisheries ministers agreed on fishing opportunities for 2023 for the fish stocks exclusively managed by the EU in the Atlantic Ocean, Kattegat and Skagerrak, including deep-sea stocks for 2023 and 2024. This includes 27 total allowable catches (TACs) for the fisheries operating on stocks managed solely by the EU, as well as strengthened measures to address the critical state of eels. The Council also set TACs for stocks shared trilaterally with Norway and the UK, following a successful conclusion of the consultations. The Council also set preliminary TACs for stocks shared bilaterally with Norway and with the UK, pending a successful conclusion of consultations.

Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said:

Today’s decisions show that the EU is at the forefront of sustainable fisheries management. I am very pleased that Member States have followed the Commission’s proposal for most stocks. By agreeing to set fishing opportunities in line with the scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), we continue our efforts to manage our stocks at healthy levels. There is still some room for improvement, however, in particular regarding precautionary advice stocks. I also welcome that Council has made progress to address the critical status of eels with a six month closure of marine catches and a total prohibition of recreational fishing.

Stocks solely managed by the EU

As proposed by the Commission, the Council has set 10 TACs in line with maximum sustainable yield advice (MSY) advice.

In the Kattegat, because of the worrying state of cod, the TACs for plaice and Norway lobster have been set in the lower range of MSY. Furthermore, the Council has agreed on a limit of 97 tonnes for unavoidable catches of cod taken in other fisheries, as well as an additional allowance for fishers using cameras for real time monitoring during fishing activities.

In the Bay of Biscay and the Iberian waters, as proposed by the Commission and within the MSY range, the Council has agreed to a 10% increase of the hake TAC. In addition, the anglerfish TAC will be raised by 12% and the megrim TAC by 33%. In the Bay of Biscay, there will be a 19% increase of the Norway lobster TAC.

For horse mackerel in the Iberian waters, a 12% increase has been agreed. For anchovy in the Bay of Biscay, a provisional TAC has been agreed, pending the publication of the scientific assessment due after the AGRIFISH Council and allowing fishing activities to continue.

The agreement represents a value of €3.5 billion for 187 EU fleet segments with significant fishing activity in the Skagerrak and northeast Atlantic. These fleet segments include 15,635 active vessels and employ 30,800 full-time fishers belonging to 1,190 EU fishing communities.

For the first time, the agreement reached could lead to a very substantial increase in landings in the Atlantic and North Sea in 2023. This could translate into an overall increase of €81 million in the value of landings, compared to 2022.

Stocks shared with the United Kingdom, Norway and other coastal states

The Council also set the TACs for the stocks the EU shares trilaterally with the United Kingdom and Norway. Of those, all of the TACs have been set at MSY level.

Since the consultations regarding stocks shared bilaterally with the UK and with Norway are still ongoing, the Council has adopted preliminary contingency TACs for those stocks for the first 3 months of 2023. This contingency plan ensures that fishing can continue seamlessly into the new year, if bilateral agreements with the UK and with Norway are not reached before the end of December. The contingency TACs are generally set at 25% of the 2022 TACs. Exceptions include several stocks fished disproportionately at the beginning of the year and some stocks with significant decreases or increases in the scientific advice for 2023.

TACs for the Atlanto-Scandian herring, blue whiting, and mackerel for 2023 have been set in line with the share of the overall fishing opportunities agreed with the coastal states.

More protection for the eels

Given the critical stock status of the European eel, the Council has also agreed to extend the current closure at sea from three to six months to coincide with the juvenile eel migration and mature eels swimming between the sea and rivers.


Sustainable fishing has made substantial progress in the EU. In 2022, 80% of the TACs were set at MSY level, allowing for a healthy future for the stocks and fishers that rely on them, compared to only 14% of TACs in 2009.

Stakeholders were consulted on the Commission proposal based on the Commission's annual Communication: Towards more sustainable fishing in the EU: state of play and orientations for 2023.

More information

TACs and quotas

Landing obligation

Multiannual management plans

Map of fishing areas

Commissioner Sinkevičius speech at the press conference after Agrifish Council, December 11-12, 2022


Publication date
13 December 2022
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries