The European Commission has unveiled a proposal for sustainable fishing.

“Our fleet is becoming more profitable and that is because some of the EU’s key fish stocks are healthier and more abundant,” said Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. “The perseverance of the fishermen and the responsible fisheries management decisions stand to prove that sustainability and profitability can go hand in hand. That being said now is not the time for complacency. We must continue our joint efforts to manage our seas and oceans in a way that works for the environment, for the economy and for future generations.”

Brussels has proposed quotas for 78 stocks: for 53 stocks the fishing quota is either increased or remains the same and reduced for 25 stocks.

According to a European Commission press release, the fishing opportunities, or Total Allowable Catches (TACs), are quotas set for most commercial fish stocks that keep the stocks healthy, while allowing the fishing industry to profit from fishing the highest amount of fish. As the size of some key fish stocks is increasing – notably for sole in the North Sea, northern hake and southern horse mackerel – so is the profitability of the fishing sector, with an estimated €1.5bn profit for 2017.

Up from only five stocks in 2009, there are 44 stocks currently being fished at Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) levels.

The objective under the Common Fisheries Policy is to have all stocks fished at sustainable levels by 2020.

The Commission’s new proposal will be tabled for discussion and decision by the EU member states at the December Fisheries Council in Brussels and will be applied as from 1 January 2018.

The Commission will also propose additional quotas, the so-called “quota top-ups”, for fisheries that in 2018 fall under the landing obligation, which requires that all catches of regulated commercial species on-board are landed and counted against quota.