The European Commission has tabled two proposals on long-term measures to help the recovery of sole stocks in the western Channel and Bay of Biscay, and southern hake and Norway lobster in the Cantabrian Sea and western Iberian Peninsula.

The Commission said these proposals correspond to the new approach under the 2002 fisheries reform, which abandons short-term measures in favour of multi-annual strategies designed to help restore and maintain fish stocks at safe biological levels.

A similar plan for certain cod stocks has already been adopted by the 2003 December Council while political agreement was also reached on a second plan for northern hake.

The Council also indicated the need for the proposed plans for sole, southern hake and Norway lobster to be adopted as early as possible this year.

The proposals are based on a strategy to rebuild stocks to safe biological levels over an estimated five to ten year period. The methods used will be similar to those under the cod recovery plan: reduced fishing possibilities, limits on fishing effort and specific control measures.