Oceana: only an ecological reform of EU fishing policy would recover fish stocks and keep jobs

Oceana is asking the European Commission to recover healthy ocean ecosystems and assure the enforcement of existing regulations

Press Release Date: April 17, 2010

Location: Madrid


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

This week, the European Union is closing their public consultation for a reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) from 2012. Oceana is asking the European Commission to focus the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy on improving the balance and the health of the oceans. Healthy oceans are not only a prerequisite for fisheries and the fish processing industry, but they are also needed by other industries like tourism and they are needed in order to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“Environmental and Fisheries administrations must manage fisheries together. The oceans are not just the place to find our exploitable marine resources, but they also fulfill other roles. For instance, the oceans absorb roughly 30% of global carbon dioxide emissions and 80% of the heat generated by increased greenhouse gas levels. As such, the new Common Fisheries Policy must go from being based on an industry of fishing as much as possible, to being an integrated policy that takes other environmental issues into account”, explains Xavier Pastor, Executive Director for Oceana in Europe.

To efficiently protect marine ecosystems and restore fish stocks, the European Union should include in the CFP to expand the network of marine protected areas to at least 20%-30% as recommended by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), after achieving the 10% aim of the Convention on Biological Diversity by 2012.

Artisanal fishermen with vessels up to 12 meters length and without towed gear should receive most support by the reformed CFP because they don’t destroy the seabed, have less impact on the ecosystem, use more selective fishing gear; they catch higher value, fresh products, have less discards and employ much more people in relation to the tonnage and the worth of the catch. Those fisheries should have priority access to coastal fishing grounds and, based on fisheries management plans, economic incentives to rebuild coastal fish stocks, support the construction of a network of coastal marine reserves and to increase the production high value, local caught fish.    

For the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy Oceana further recommends:

  • Implement the precautionary principle and an ecosystem based approach to fisheries management.
  • Ensure a correct management of all fisheries with TACs (Total Allowable Catches), effort controls and technical measures.
  • Fisheries in European Union waters and by European Union vessels should only be carried out if ecologically sustainable management measures are established, based on the best available scientific information.
  • As required by the Convention on Biological Diversity a minimum of 10% of the oceans must be declared as Marine Protected Areas by 2012. The area of marine reserves should be expanded to 20 % to 30% as recommended by the IUCN. 
  • Restore depleted fish stocks to MSY (Maximum Sustainable Yield) until 2015. Replace MSY as a management objective for fisheries. Manage fisheries under the ecosystem based approach and integrate the precautionary principle.
  • Use an integrated approach to manage marine ecosystems aiming at achieving a good environmental status of the oceans.
  • Eradicate by-catch and discards in European Union waters and by European Union vessels.
  • Eliminate IUU fishing (Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported fishing) in the European Union and by EU vessels. Close the European market for IUU caught fish and seafood; prohibit trade with IUU caught fish.
  • Manage the “external element” of the fishing fleet within the Common Fisheries Policy under the aim of protecting oceans biodiversity and rebuilding third countries ocean ecosystems towards a good environmental status of the oceans.
  • Eliminate environmental harmful fisheries subsidies and introduce legally binding goals for a substantial capacity reduction of the fleet.