The North Sea Multi-Annual Plan (NSMAP) covers nearly one-third of all fish caught in the EU and includes species such as cod, haddock, whiting, sole, plaice and Norway lobster.
For each species, member states and MEPs agreed on a range within which the Council will set a total allowable catch (TAC) on the basis of scientific advice, with a view to avoiding overfishing. Under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), member states agreed to end overfishing by 2020.
The CFP quota system has long been criticised for causing fishermen to discard perfectly edible fish (up to 40% of the total catch of some species) to avoid fines.
To end this waste, from January 2018 a ban on discards will be phased in for a number of species. This will result in increased landings, which is why the two EU institutions decided to enhance flexibility.