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North, Atlantic Seas Fisheries on Road to Sustainability

Sustainability Politics

EU - Fisheries in Europe are further progressing to sustainability in the North and West of the European Union.

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More fish can be harvested, thereby contributing to improved revenues for our fishermen and their communities. However, in the Mediterranean Sea, serious problems of overfishing continue to persist.

These are the key messages that Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, passes in this year's report on the state of fish stocks and the preparation for setting next years' fish quotas.

Commissioner Vella stated: "The visible success in northern fisheries proves that sustainable fisheries management is possible. Together with the fishermen we now need to consolidate the positive results and achieve the goals of the new Common Fisheries Policy. Our efforts in the Mediterranean need to be stepped up.. We need to develop Union management plans and more effective regional plans. But only when we address the situation in our Member States, will we gain the necessary credibility to start discussing with our partners in the Mediterranean.”

The document is now open to the views of stakeholders via an online public consultation. The Commission will make its proposals for the 2016 fishing opportunities during the autumn.

In its annual reporting on the state of the resources, the Commission highlights two different situations:

  • There is good news in the Northeast Atlantic area, the North Sea and the Baltic Seas where more than 50 per cent of fisheries (32 out of 62 MSY-assessed stocks) were at sustainable levels in 2014, compared to only 14 per cent in 2009. They include many of the commercially important stocks.

  • The fish stocks in the Mediterranean show a dismal picture: 93per cent of the assessed stocks are not sustainably fished. The situation is similar for stocks fished by fishermen from the EU only, and stocks shared with fishermen of third countries. The Black Sea is in a comparable situation, with 86 per cent of the assessed stocks being overfished.

The Commission confirms its commitment to bring all fisheries as soon as possible to levels that correspond to maximum sustainable yields (MSY). This core objective of the new Common Fisheries Policy will contribute to reaching good environmental status in our seas by 2020 at the latest.