The European Commission today released its annual report on the state of fish stocks and the progress made so far in achieving sustainable fisheries - the main objective of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
The data from the report show that overfishing levels still remain high in the North East Atlantic, including adjacent seas, i.e. the Baltic or the North Sea, where 41% of stocks have been excessively harvested. According to the report, the Mediterranean Sea is currently in the worst state of all of Europe’s seas, with around 90% of the fish stocks overfished, and some at high risk of complete collapse. European hake, red mullet, blue whiting and anglerfish are all fished at levels around 10 times higher than what is considered sustainable, according to science.
“Overfishing damages the environment as well as the wider economy. Mismanaging natural, renewable resources ruins our natural marine heritage and costs us jobs, food, and money. The legal deadline is just two years away and politicians are running out of excuses for this outrageous waste. Healthy and well-managed EU fish stocks have the potential to produce over 57% more - or 2 million tonnes more - sustainable fish annually and create 92 000 new jobs at the same time,” argued Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe.
Despite a legally binding obligation to phase out overfishing by 2020 at the latest, the progress achieved so far by the EU is insufficient to meet this deadline, as confirmed repeatedly by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), an EU advisory body. Stopping overfishing will not only facilitate the sustainable exploitation of fish resources but it will also contribute to achieving good environmental status in European seas.
Oceana calls on the European Commission, the Council of the EU and all EU Member States to take responsible decisions this year and set sustainable catch limits—for all the Atlantic fish stocks—that are in line with scientific advice. It is also the EU’s duty to urgently recover the critically-overfished Mediterranean Sea—where hardly any catch limits are in place yet—by means of robust, ambitious long-term management plans, which are the most efficient way to tackle the problem of overfishing.