Aquaculture for all

European Commission Finds Overfishing in Mediterranean but Recovery in Northeast Atlantic

Sustainability Politics

EU - Fish stocks in the North and West of Europe are recovering, but there are still serious problems of overfishing in the Mediterranean Sea. That's the key message EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki passes in this year's report on the state of fish stocks and the preparation of setting next years' fish quotas.

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"I am very worried how badly things are going in the Mediterranean Sea," Commissioner Damanaki said.

"Now that scientists have assessed many more fish stocks over the last five years, the time of denial is over: the Mediterranean Sea is heavily overfished. I see a long struggle and hard work ahead: We need to build up the science, adopt regional fishing plans to bring fishing down to sustainable levels. If we do not act now, we will lose the tremendous potential of these resources for future generations. The new Common Fisheries Policy offers an opportunity that we must live up to, and I shall be discussing this with all the Fisheries Ministers in the Mediterranean Member States".

On the situation in the Northeast Atlantic area, Commissioner Damanaki stated: "The successful recovery of fish stocks in the Northeast Atlantic proves to me that with the right rules in place, it is possible to bring overfishing to an end. When good science is available, when catches are set at the right level and when – most important of all - the fishermen join in the efforts to protect the stocks, then I am sure we will see further improvements ahead. These are the principles that the reformed Common Fisheries Policy is based on."

For the first time, the Commission could take into account scientific advice for the state of the stocks in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

The fish stock data for the Mediterranean show a dismal picture: 96 per cent or more of the Mediterranean bottom-living fish are overfished, and for the middle-water stocks like sardine and anchovy the figure is 71 per cent or more. For the Black Sea, all bottom-living fish and 33 per cent of pelagic stocks are overfished.

In the Northeast Atlantic area, including the Baltic and North Seas, overfishing has fallen from 86 per cent (30 stocks overfished out of 35 assessed) in 2009 to 41 per cent (19 out of 46 stocks) in 2014.

The annual consultation document on fishing opportunities 2015 (the levels of Total Allowable Catches, quotas and fishing effort) is now open to the views of stakeholders via an online public consultation, before the Commission makes its proposals during the autumn.

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