Today, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has provided the European Commission with a framework for classifying the status of category 3 and 4 stocks relative to Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) objective of the Common Fisheries Policy.
More than 60% of fish stocks that ICES gives advice on are category 3 and 4. These categories include stocks for which the data and knowledge are insufficient to conduct a full analytical assessment of their state and exploitation. Until now, ICES has not been able to assess their state relative to the objective of achieving MSY.
ICES experts have developed a number of assessment methods for stocks in these categories and applied them to selected stocks in the western EU waters as requested by the European Commission. Today's advice addresses the MSY status of these western waters stocks but ICES expects to apply it to similar stocks in other European waters over the next year.
Application of these methods mean that the status of category 3 and 4 stocks can now be classified as desirable or undesirable in relation to MSY objectives. The assessment of fishing opportunities for category 3 and 4 stocks will continue to be done in accordance with the current framework but with the determination of stock status relative to MSY objectives, it is now possible to take this into consideration when ICES gives advice on fishing opportunities. The advice for stocks that are assessed to be in an undesirable status will be to have further precaution applied to them.
The ICES category 3 and 4 stock approach is described in chapter 1 of the General context for ICES advice.
To read the full advice on Fmsy proxies for western waters stocks, please visit the latest ICES advice.