Oceana urges the Council of Fisheries Ministers to eradicate overexploitation of our seas

The European Commission itself admits catches approved each year by the EU exceed scientific recommendations by 50%

Press Release Date: April 17, 2010

Location: Madrid


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

Oceana sent a report to the EU Fisheries Ministers in which it urges the EU Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers to eradicate the chronic overexploitation of our seas during the meeting that begins today. During this meeting, the Council will decide the total admissible catches (TACs) and quotas for the Community fleet for next year, based on the proposal made by European Commission[1].

Oceana, the marine conservation organisation, presented a report that summarises the conservation status of the most important commercial species, analyses the Commission’s proposals and makes recommendations about sustainable TACs according to scientific assessment. Jose Rodríguez, marine scientist at Oceana, points out: “The fact that 70% of the Commission’s proposals involve reductions in catch gives us an idea to what point we agree about the serious state of overexploitation of fishing resources. But confirming that 8 out of 10 of these proposals only include reductions of 10-15% quickly puts our feet on the ground again about the reigning interests involved in these negotiations.”

Oceana stresses that the necessary reductions are much more severe. This is the case of the Norway lobster and anchovy west of the Iberian Peninsula, for which scientists recommend reductions of 70% and 40%, respectively; they also recommend 65% reduction for plaice West of Ireland; 60% for whiting in the North Sea and 50% for Norway lobster West of Scotland. The state of overexploitation of other stocks has led scientists to recommend the closing of some fisheries year after year; although this petition has consistently been ignored. This is the case of cod in the Irish Sea, Kattegat and West of Scotland; anglerfish and Norway lobster in the Cantabrian Sea; and sole in the Irish Sea, among others.

The only closure recommendation the European Commission adopted was to maintain the anchovy fishery in the Cantabrian Sea. Despite this, the Spanish government has declared its intention of requesting the opening of this fishery in January, against ICES (the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas) recommendations.

The European Commission estimated that total TACs approved for 2009 by the Council of Ministers exceeded the levels considered sustainable by scientists by 48%.

According to Ricardo Aguilar, Director of Research and Projects at Oceana Europe: “Starting Monday, the Council of Ministers has the opportunity to change this trend of managing resources just over the limits of collapse. Fisheries policies seem dedicated to perpetuating a permanent state of overexploitation. By analysing the state of resources, we can confirm that instead of recovering and improving their state, the objective seems to be their sustainable overexploitation.”


Oceana’s analysis: Fishing opportunities for the Community fleet for 2010. State of populations and TAC recommendations


[1] http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/press_corner/press_releases/2009/com09_54_en.htm