The rate of overfishing is back on the rise according to Oceana with 43% of Atlantic fish populations assessed being overfished
43% of Atlantic and 83% of Mediterranean fish populations assessed are overfished according to non-governmental organisation, Oceana.
The rate of overfishing has increased in European waters, according to this week’s report by the European Commission on the state of play of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
Oceana deplores this confirmation that the EU is moving further away from its legal commitment to exploit all harvested fish populations sustainably. To add to this, the landing obligation does not seem to be properly enforced, and the illegal practice of discarding continues.
“The painfully slow implementation of EU legal requirements and the continued reluctance by Member States to follow scientific advice is bearing unwelcome, but not unexpected, fruit” said Vera Coelho, Oceana´s Senior Director, Advocacy in Europe. “In light of the ongoing biodiversity and climate crises, we cannot afford any step back in achieving sustainable fisheries. It is high time for the European Commission, Member States and the fishing industry to fully implement EU fisheries law to save our seas and secure a prosperous future for our fishing communities.”
An earlier report1 by an EU advisory body, the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), confirmed that many of the assessed European fish populations remain overfished or outside safe biological limits. Indeed, the proportion of overfished stocks increased from 38% to 43% in the North-East Atlantic, after a decade of recovery, while the situation in the Mediterranean and Black Seas remains dire with 83% of assessed stocks overfished.
The poor conservation status of these fish populations is mainly due to the setting of fishing opportunities above levels recommended by scientific advice, the lack of effective remedial measures to recover depleted fish populations and the poor compliance with the landing obligation. Oceana regrets the European Commission’s continued reluctance to acknowledge the persistent issue of overfishing in the EU, despite the Commission’s important role in ensuring the implementation of EU law and in proposing and negotiating annual fishing opportunities with the Member States.
Repeated warnings by environmental NGOs and STECF that the EU was failing to meet its legal commitment to end overfishing by 2020 have fallen on deaf ears. Oceana urges the EU institutions – European Commission, European Parliament, Council of the EU – and the Member States to fully implement the CFP and finally transition to sustainable fisheries and to an ecosystem-based approach. The Commission should also not hesitate to take legal action against those countries that do not fulfil their obligations.