Oceana calls for far reaching and science based EU governance to halt ongoing collapse of marine resources

Today the European Commission published the Green Paper on the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), an analysis of the few achievements and the many shortcomings of current EU Fisheries Policy

Press Release Date: May 11, 2010

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

Oceana welcomes the constructive assessment of the present situation made by the Commission in the Green Paper, launched this morning in Brussels. This document, and the subsequent consultation period with stakeholders pave the way for the drafting of the Commission Proposal on the planned reform of the EU Fisheries Framework Regulation, to enter into force by January 2013[1].


However, the international marine conservation organisation warns that fundamental and far-reaching changes in EU policies are urgently needed for meeting the Commission’s ambitious goal of healthy and productive EU fisheries by 2020.


Scientific evidence shows an ongoing dramatic erosion of marine biological diversity that appears to be accelerating on a global scale[2], with predicted collapse of all fished species by the year 2048[3] under business as usual.


Furthermore, many of the world’s commercial fisheries and associated species are likely to be threatened by climate change impacts such as ocean acidification, changes in habitat and prey availability, potentially aggravating the already assessed collapse scenario.


The Commission Green Paper acknowledges the need for a core change to reverse the present negative trend, identifying the fundamental problem of European fisheries eroding their own ecological and economic basis.


“Unfortunately many precious years have been lost through low performing policy, says Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana-Europe“and today we are left to deal with stocks fished down to depletion, recovery plans unable to serve their aim, unmanaged overcapacity, poor environmental compliance, low profitability of the EU fisheries industry, governance structure failing in their accountability to common interests, perverse subsidies and incentives[4], insufficient monitoring and control, unsustainable loss of biodiversity.”


“The EU has a challenge ahead to find the solution, but this may be the final chance to reverse on the current practice of fishing down marine ecosystems,” continues Xavier Pastor.


A modern EU Oceans management policy based on ecological sustainability as a key pre-condition to economic and social developments as well as a best available science-based ecosystem approach remain urgently needed.  


“The new CFP should incorporate precautionary science into the design and governance of marine and fisheries policies as well as allowing for adaptive management to regularly assess and review decisions,”  says Gaia Angelini, Policy Advisor at Oceana-Europe.


The depleted status of European fish resources is an unacceptable price to pay for EU citizens both in terms of waste of commonly owned natural marine resources and the economic cost of bailing out the fishing sector with perverse and environmentally damaging subsidies.


Oceana will be extensively contributing during the Green Paper consultation period to support a renewed CFP supporting responsible fisheries activities balanced with available fish resources and operating with maximum respect for marine habitats and life.



[1] – The management and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources are currently regulated by the EU basic Regulation N.  2371/2002 of 20 December 2002. The Regulation applies until 31 December 2012

[2] – Froese and Pauly (2003): compared to 1950s the 1990s data showed that most of the catches (about 75%) were coming from fully exploited or over fished fisheries and over 10% from collapsed fisheries

[3] – Boris Worm et al (2006, November). Impact of Biodiversity loss on ecosystem services, Science Journal

4 – World Bank ( 2008) The Sunken Billions: The Economic Justification for Fisheries Reform reports that  world economic losses in marine fisheries resulting from poor management, inefficiencies, and overfishing add up to US$50 billion per year (a total of over $US 2 trillion in the last 3 decades).