According to Ifremer, overfishing is declining but climate change threatens fish stocks

According to Ifremer, overfishing is declining but climate change threatens fish stocks

Nearly 20% of the biomass of marine animals could disappear by 2100 due to global warming, according to estimates. 

Good and bad news for the seas. The good news: overfishing has been declining for 20 years in Europe, according to a report from the European Commission presented on Tuesday May 24 by the French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea (Ifremer). 

The bad news: climate change continues to threaten fish populations according to Ifremer, which calls for continued vigilance.   

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“Nothing is guaranteed for the future,” recalled Clara Ulrich, Deputy Scientific Director at Ifremer, who stresses that climate change affects the chemistry of the oceans and therefore the distribution of fish populations, their diet and their growth. Consequently, nearly 20% of the biomass of marine animals could disappear by the end of the century on average, according to estimates based on IPCC climate models. 

Another cause for concern is that overfishing is not declining in the same way everywhere in Europe: in the Mediterranean, 86% of fish populations assessed are considered to be overexploited. In February, Ifremer estimated that 56% of the fish consumed in France came from sustainable fishing , far from the objective of 100% fish from sustainably exploited populations in 2020. 

56% of the fish we eat now come from sustainable fishing, says Ifremer. However, the report of the Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea also highlights the other face of the seabed: so-called “collapsed” fish, whose future is more than uncertain. 

Is overfishing  likely to deplete the ocean floor?  On the market stall, some fish are rare and cost more. “We fish less, and suddenly it has a direct impact on the stalls,” explains Arezki Madadi, fishmonger. While whiting stocks are now considered to be in good condition, sole and cod are at their lowest. These are overfished species, which are in danger of collapsing.      

More than 328,000 tonnes of fish caught in France in 2020 

“The problem is that it can take time to recover, and suddenly the population does not accept, or cannot support, profitable commercial fishing,” explains Alain Biseau, fisheries biologist at Ifremer. 

“In the English Channel, cod has become untraceable. It has nothing to do with overfishing, it’s only due to global warming. (…) We need a certain limit. We have to limit ourselves, because if there are no more resources, there are no more fishermen,” says Olivier Leprêtre , president of the regional fisheries committee.

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Overfishing is declining in Europe, but climate change threatens fish stocks 

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