43% of North-East Atlantic and 83% of Mediterranean fish populations are still subject to overfishing
Today Oceana is placing a virtual floating cod over the Europa building in Brussels, where the Council of the EU meets, and over various fisheries ministry buildings across Europe. This action aims to denounce the overexploitation of European fish populations and to call on EU fisheries ministers, who will meet on 12-13 December, to set fishing opportunities for 2022 in line with science and so bring an end to overfishing.
Javier Lopez, Oceana’s Campaign Director for Sustainable Fisheries in Europe, said: “Iconic fish in Europe, like Atlantic cod or Mediterranean hake, are disappearing before our eyes. This requires urgent action to recover these populations. With this action, we are urging EU fisheries ministers to stop their unsustainable business as usual and instead follow the science and fulfil their legal obligations. Overfishing benefits the short-term economic interests of a few companies, while unbalancing the whole marine ecosystem we all depend on.”
Pictures of the floating cod over the council of the EU and fisheries ministry in Spain
The EU has missed the legal deadline to end overfishing by 2020 set in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and in UN commitments. According to a European Commission report on the performance of the CFP from April this year, after a decade of progress overfishing is now back on the rise in the North-East Atlantic, where it has risen from 38% to 43%. The situation remains dire in the Mediterranean and Black seas, where 83% of fish stocks are subject to overfishing.
Cod, the iconic species selected for the augmented reality stunt, is emblematic of overfishing. All cod stocks in the EU are overfished and some are in such a critical state that scientists are recommending that it should not be commercially fished at all, not even as bycatch in other fisheries. Other examples of overfishing across Europe include Mediterranean hake, some nephrop stocks in Iberian waters, West of Ireland herring or Celtic Sea whiting.
On 12th and 13th December, EU fisheries ministers will set fishing opportunities for next year, including catch limits in the Atlantic and effort restrictions in the Mediterranean. These decisions are the most straightforward way to ensure the sustainable exploitation of fish populations and to contribute to restoring balance to the marine ecosystem. But, to achieve that, Oceana recalls the need to close the gap between the scientific advice and the fishing opportunities adopted, otherwise overfishing will continue for at least another year in European waters.
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