Aquaculture for all

Ending Overfishing in Europe may Take Over 100 Years, says WWF

Sustainability Economics Politics +2 more

EU - New scientific analysis from environmental organisation WWF reveals recovery of European fish stocks will take more than 100 years under current proposals by EU Fisheries Ministers.

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“No law can end overfishing in one fell swoop but Ministers appear to be actively sidelining stock recovery”, says Roberto Ferrigno, WWF’s Common Fisheries Policy project coordinator.

“For the sake of fishermen, coastal communities and the health of our oceans, Ministers must set targets for the fastest possible recovery. 100 years plus is too long.”

Two out of three fish stocks in European waters are considered overfished. Ambitious reform of Europe’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) could reverse this situation over the next 10 years. But core elements of the reform package relating to discards, subsidies and stock recovery are under dispute, and negotiations between the European Parliament and Fisheries Ministers over what shape future EU fishing laws should take, may collapse.

Parliament wants to reduce fishing activity to allow stock recovery by 2020, with stock size and catches managed according to the principle of ‘maximum sustainable yield’ (MSY). WWF analysis suggests implementation of Parliament’s ambitious proposals, could result in the recovery of three-quarters of overfished European stocks within the next 10 years.

In contrast, Fisheries Ministers want to reduce fishing pressure gradually without any binding measures before 2020, resulting in an uncertain century-long recovery process.

“Procrastinating until 2020 would sanction continued overfishing,” says Mr Ferrigno. “Ministers risk losing perhaps the last opportunity to ensure Europe once again has healthy and economically viable fisheries.” Currently, European fisheries produce only about 60 per cent of what could be landed if stocks were allowed to recover.

CFP reform is faltering due to contrasting socio-economic interests of individual Member States. “Some fishing nations want to maintain the status quo and thwart reform,” says Mr Ferrigno. “Real change is hanging by a thread. Failure to deliver now will be a massive setback in the fight against overfishing, threatening the health of our oceans as well as the future of the fishing industry.”

The upcoming Fisheries Council meeting on 13-14 May may be the last chance Ministers have to collaborate with Parliament, revive the CFP reform process, deliver meaningful targets for stock recovery, and end overfishing.

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