Fisheries Bill could spell the end of the line for sustainable fishing

Oceana calls for three commitments to secure future of British fishing

Press Release Date: October 12, 2020

Location: United Kingdom


Emily Fairless, Communications Officer | email: | tel.: +32 478 038 490

Today is a final opportunity for MPs to prove that the UK can truly set a ‘gold standard’ for sustainable fisheries – protecting the UK’s valuable fish stocks for generations to come, according to the world’s largest ocean conservation organisation, Oceana.  Ending overfishing is critical to securing the future livelihoods of those working in the British fishing industry, yet Parliament looks set to approve The Fisheries Bill today that fails to legally commit to fishing at science-based sustainable levels.

Oceana is calling for Parliament to adopt a three-pronged approach to ensure UK fish stocks are rebuilt and our marine ecosystems recovered by:

  1. 1. Supporting amendments to strengthen the sustainability clause in the Fisheries Bill           
  2. 2. Committing to putting cameras on boats to monitor fish catches and bycatch
  3. 3. Ending destructive fishing in Marine Protected Areas     

Oceana maintains that there must be a legal guarantee that the total allowable catch (TAC) for commercial fish stocks will not overshoot scientific advice and will not exceed Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), the sustainable rate of fishing.

Overfishing – where fish are caught at a faster rate than they can naturally reproduce – is endemic in European fisheries.  As part of the EU, the UK has played its part to reduce the number of overfished stocks in the North-East Atlantic from 75% to 40% over the last 10 years. The new Fisheries Bill now gives the UK an opportunity to lead the way on ending overfishing in its waters – something the EU collectively failed to do by the agreed target of 2020 and which is beneficial in protecting the jobs of UK fishers.

Melissa Moore, Head of UK Policy, Oceana said: Whilst the UK government has promised a world-leading bill, describing it as a ‘Gold Standard’[1] it is shying away from any legal duty to fish below the sustainable rate of fishing.  We welcome the sentiment of this legislation, but feel that the current draft of The Fisheries Bill just does not go far enough in protecting our valuable fish stocks – which as we all know, as an island nation, are a precious part of our heritage and future.”

“We want to ensure that the cod, herring, mackerel and sole and other favourites in family homes and in fish and chip shops up and down the country – continue to thrive in our waters.  If fished sustainably they will remain an important  part of the UK’s diet for generations to come. By making the right decisions, politicians can play a vital role in boosting the marine life and fish catches in British waters.  Ending overfishing is critical to the future of the UK fishing industry and the supply of fish and seafood for public consumption.”

For further information and to arrange interviews, please contact the Oceana team at Barley Communications:

Catherine Jordan Jones : +44 7917 664648

Sam Williams: +44 7949 607029

And from Oceana:

Emily Fairless: +32 478 038490


Notes to editors

1 UK Fisheries Minister, Victoria Prentis, said: “This Bill offers us the opportunity to set a gold standard for sustainable fisheries and gives us the powers to protect our precious fish stocks while enabling our seafood sector to thrive.” (3/7/2020)

Oceana’s research on the impact of sustainable fishing practices on UK catches

Oceana’s research shows that if sustainable fishing practices are put into place and backed by a legal requirement to follow scientific advice on fishing limits, UK catches could dramatically increase in just a few years’ time, and provide more food, more jobs and more money.  Oceana analysed 75 of the most important commercial species, such as haddock, cod, Norway lobster and herring. If UK fisheries are managed sustainably over the next ten years, ending overfishing could result in the UK having nearly 30% more catches and generating an additional £319 million for UK GDP annually, with 5,100 new jobs. Read “More Food, More Jobs and More Money in the UK. Oceana’s Recipe for Fish Recovery”, April 2018:

About Oceana


Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one third of the world’s wild fish catch. With over 200 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that one billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. Visit to learn more.    

Learn more:


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