Oceana: fish catches could be 80% higher if EU managed stocks sustainably, scientist find

A scientific report, published today, reveals that Europe will fail by decades to reach the Johannesburg commitment of managing fisheries sustainably by 2015

Press Release Date: March 23, 2010

Location: Madrid


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

Today, renown fisheries scientists published a scientific study, showing that the reason for the disastrous situation of European fish stocks is an entirely failed fisheries management over the last decades. In fact, catches could be 80% higher with a sustainable fisheries management. In European waters, almost 90% of fish stocks evaluated are overfished. Managing fish stocks sustainably is a legal obligation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and has been given the deadline of no later than 2015 in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, that has been agreed by the European Union. The scientists found that Europe will fail to reach this aim by decades: Rainer Froese, leading scientists for the study, confirms “With a business-as-usual approach, rebuilding of European stocks will take more than 30 years”. The scientists found, even if fishing were halted in 2010, 22% of the stocks are so depleted that they cannot be rebuilt by 2015. With their failing to set fishing quotas at a level that prevents overfishing, European Union fisheries ministers act also in contradiction to the “precautionary approach”, a legally binding principle of the European Union treaty.Previous findings by Oceana show that Fishing Quotas adopted by European fisheries ministers significantly exceed the scientific recommendations. Over the last 20 years, 78% of scientific recommendations on TACs for European Union fish stocks have been continuously ignored. The scientific study, published today illustrates the consequences of these constant failures in fisheries management and points out the urgent need for a complete turnaround. A reformed Common Fisheries Policy will come into force in 2013 and the reform process will be leaded by Maria Damanaki, designated as the new European Fisheries Commissioner. The study shows that the failed fisheries management does not only harm the environment but has also extremely negative economic impacts. Rainer Froese points out: “If Europe had acted on its international pledges of sustainable management, then catches could be about 80% higher than they currently are.” Current landings of the Northeast Atlantic fish stocks, examined in the study are 7.6 million tons compared to a possible catch of 13,6 million tons under a sustainable fisheries management. These findings show that the economic losses for fishing companies, the losses of jobs on fishing vessels and in the processing industry caused by failed fisheries management are enormous.“This study, that shows Europe will fail to reach their Johannesburg aim for fisheries management until 2015 confirms a trend we see throughout all environmental politics in Europe and that is disastrous for the environment and especially for the oceans” comments Ricardo Aguilar, Scientific Director of Oceana Europe. “Europe is not only failing to reach their Johannesburg aim to manage fisheries sustainable until 2015 but Europe will also fail to stop biodiversity loss until 2010, an aim they committed to in the International Convention on Biodiversity, as the European Commission has recently recognized.”