Oceana study: Rebuilding overexploited fisheries could generate 5 billion euros a year to EU economies

By recovering EU fish stocks to sustainable levels in less than 10 years, society could benefit from over 90.000 new jobs

Press Release Date: September 25, 2017

Location: Brussels


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

Brussels — If EU fisheries were healthy and well managed over the next ten years, they could contribute 4.9 billion euros annually to Europe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) across the wider economy, and generate 92,000 new jobs, according to a new study released today by Oceana.

The social and economic value of recovering fisheries had not previously been calculated in such a comprehensive manner, until now.

The Study reveals that restoring fish stocks to sustainable levels would increase:

  • The value of fish landings by 2.4 billion euros per year (+56%)
  • Net profit of the fishing and processing sectors by 965 million euros per year
  • The EU’s GDP by 4.9 billion euros per year
  • Employment opportunities by 92,000, with a significant part in the wider economy

The findings highlight the urgent need for strong political changes that could eventually benefit fisheries, fishers and EU economies.

“Sustainability is good for business. In less than ten years, we can fish almost 60% more in Europe sustainably, boost EU GDP by nearly 5 billion euros and create more than 90.000 jobs. We need to do three things: manage fisheries following scientific advice, protect essential fish habitats and stop destructive and illegal fishing. If we do so, the future for EU fisheries will be bright again,” explained Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe.

Currently, 64% of European fish stocks are overfished, according to the most comprehensive scientific assessment of European fisheries, released by Oceana in 2016. However, if managed sustainably catches in EU waters could increase by an additional 2 million tonnes a year.

The report underlines that besides the fishing and fish processing sectors – which could generate over 33.800 new jobs – the wider EU economy would see the largest employment increase, with nearly 58,200 new job opportunities.

Among the EU countries that would benefit the most from the increased GDP are: France (+470 million euros), Italy (+383 million euros), the UK (+367 million euros), Spain (+338 million euros) and Denmark (+291 million euros).

Public subsidies to the fishing industry (direct income and fuel subsidies) currently amount to at least 935 million euros per year. The study estimates that in a recovery scenario, where fish stocks are fished sustainably, at least 700 million euros could be saved or reinvested from taxpayers’ money.  

The results of the study come ahead of the final decisions for the 2018 fishing limits for the Baltic Sea in October and the 2018 fishing limits for the North-East Atlantic in December. The limits will both be negotiated between the European Commission and the 28 EU fisheries ministers during the respective meetings of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council of the EU in Brussels.

Oceana urges EU decision makers to give up the current short-term approach to setting fish catch limits and instead take urgent action to put an end to overfishing in European waters once and for all.