Sustainable Fisheries

Securing Sustainable Fisheries Management

Oceana advocates for managing fisheries sustainably, through setting fishing limits based on science and protecting marine ecosystems from the impacts of fishing, including by drastically reducing by-catch.



The setting of fishing opportunities is the most important management tool to keep fishing mortality within sustainable levels. In too many cases, however, fishing opportunities are set above sustainable levels recommended by scientists. This leads to overfishing and threatens the health of fish stocks and the profitability of the fishing sector. Oceana calls on decision-makers to set fishing opportunities consistent with science and with the management objectives of the CFP.

One of the legally binding objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is to ensure that fish populations are exploited in such a way as to restore and maintain their biomass above sustainable levels by 2020 at the latest. In the EU, the setting of fishing opportunities regulates the exploitation of fish stocks, mainly in the form of catch limits in Atlantic waters and effort restrictions in the Mediterranean Sea.

Despite the clear CFP objective to end overfishing by 2020 at the latest, marine resources have continued to be exploited above levels recommended by science. Indeed, around 30% of North-East Atlantic and 80% of Mediterranean fish stocks are still subject to overfishing. This situation is not only jeopardizing the recovery of these populations to healthy levels, but is also putting at risk the socio-economic sustainability of the European fleet.

Oceana campaigns to achieve sustainable fisheries throughout Europe and to bring an end to overfishing by calling on decision-makers to set fishing opportunities that are based on science rather than on political interest, and to drastically reduce fishing impacts on marine ecosystems, including by-catch. Specifically, Oceana calls on European countries to:

  • establish fishing opportunities in line with the best available scientific advice;
  • apply the precautionary approach when setting fishing opportunities for stocks where scientific advice is lacking;
  • implement effective control systems to achieve compliance and to enforce the agreed fishing opportunities.

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