Oceana welcomes progress in setting EU catch limits in line with scientific advice

Press Release Date: December 12, 2023

Location: Brussels


Emily Fairless | email: efairless@oceana.org | tel.: +32 478 038 490

Today, EU fisheries ministers have agreed 23 catch limits for fish populations managed exclusively by the EU in the Northeast Atlantic, as well as fishing opportunities in the Mediterranean Sea for 2024. Oceana welcomes an improvement in the number of catch limits in line with scientific advice in the Northeast Atlantic, although points out that 13% (3 out of 23) are still set above science. Oceana regrets that ministers are allowing overfishing of some sensitive and endangered species to continue and highlights that more efforts are needed to address overfishing in the Mediterranean.

Javier López, Campaign director for sustainable fisheries at Oceana in Europe, said: We welcome the progress agreed today in increasing the number of catch limits set in line with science compared to previous years. However it is disappointing that ministers persist in not meeting their legal commitments to end overfishing of all stocks and are, on the contrary, giving the green light to reckless overfishing of sensitive species like cod in the Kattegat and the critically endangered eel, putting their future at risk.”

“A valuable step towards safeguarding demersal stocks is the decision, in the Western Mediterranean, to cut the number of fishing days for trawlers by 9.5%, in line with the Commission proposal, and to lower the catch limits for various deep-sea shrimps. Nonetheless, more efforts are needed to secure the recovery of other vital stocks in these waters,” added Javier López.


The agreement reached today will also incorporate into EU law the agreements with third parties for shared stocks, like the ones between the EU and the UK, and between the EU, the UK, and Norway, both concluded on 8 December, or the Northeast Atlantic Coastal States agreement.

The EU agreed to end overfishing by 2020 in EU fisheries law (the 2013 Common Fisheries Policy) and international agreements like the UN sustainable development goals. Yet, every year, EU ministers set fishing limits that allow overfishing of several fish populations to continue.