Oceana urges fisheries ministers to end overfishing in 2015

41% of stocks are known to be overfished in the NE Atlantic

Press Release Date: December 12, 2014

Location: Madrid


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

The Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AGRI-FISH) will meet in Brussels on the 15th-16th of December to decide the catch limits of the main commercial fish species in the North-East Atlantic for 2015. Oceana reminds EU Member States of their obligation to maintain sustainable catch levels in the framework of Common Fisheries Policy, and urges them to close the gap between agreed catch limits and scientific advice.

The fishing opportunities for 2015 will be the first to be legally adopted under the new Common Fisheries Policy. This includes sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources based on maximum sustainable yield (MSY), a target that will revamp the condition of fish stocks and will bring better revenues for fishermen. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the MSY objective should be achieved by 2015 for all stocks where possible, and by 2020 at the latest, currently, only 27 stocks are known to be fished at MSY levels.

“Ministers can and must stop overfishing in EU waters. With 41% of stocks currently overfished, the situation is far from positive, and its consequences are detrimental to the status of fish populations and the viability of the fishing industry”, stated Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “Setting catch limits in line with scientific advice and the legal obligation to maintain fish stocks biomass above MSY rates, will enable the recovery of North-East Atlantic stocks.”

The marine conservation organization also draws attention to the increased disparity between established catch limits and sustainable catch limits during recent years. Based on official data from the European Commission, this difference dropped to its lowest rate of 11% in 2012, but increased significantly during 2013 and 2014, and now stands at 35%. According to Oceana, this situation shows a worrying trend and an evident step back in the management of fish resources.

“Fishing opportunities cannot exceed catch limits recommended by scientists without leading to overexploitation. This gap must be closed and fishing opportunities should undeniably follow scientific advice to guarantee the sustainability of the fishing activity”, added Javier Lopez, Marine Scientist at Oceana. “We urge Fisheries Ministers to give up the short term approach and instead, focus their efforts on restoring the productivity of fish stocks in 2015.” 

Learn more:  Oceana fishing opportunities recommendations for 2015