Catches in NE Atlantic and North Sea could increase by 29% in less than five years if fishing limits followed scientific advice, report finds
The Agriculture and Fisheries Council agreed tonight to allow continued overfishing in North-East Atlantic. Once again, ministers approved catch limits for 2017 that surpass scientific recommendations, ignoring the facts that 64% of European stocks are overfished and 85% are below healthy levels. EU countries have a legally binding obligation to fish stocks at sustainable levels by 2020 at the latest. With today’s decision Ministers undermine their own Common Fisheries Policy.
“The consequences of today’s irrational decision will live longer than the Ministers’ political mandates. Half of Atlantic stocks are already overfished and overfishing will now continue into 2017.” explains Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe. “It is difficult to understand why Ministers fail to see the great opportunity of fish recovery for EU fishermen and citizens alike. Rebuilding stocks will create more jobs in the fishing industry and provide more healthy food for European tables. Why is that not a political priority? By ignoring science in favour short-term economic interests, Ministers are acting both economically and ecologically irresponsibly.”
A recent comprehensive study led by renowned fisheries expert Dr. Rainer Froese has clearly shown the huge potential of fish recovery in Europe which can only be achieved by setting science-based fishing quotas. In the North-East Atlantic, the report found that 78 out of 153 stocks (51%) are overfished. If these stocks were exploited sustainably on the basis of scientific advice, there would be more fish in the ocean and a potential and sustainable catch increase of 29%, from the current 4.83 million tonnes to 6.23 million.