Report: UK, Denmark, Ireland quotas well in excess of scientific advice

Published on
February 11, 2019

European Union member states are predicted to fish Northeast Atlantic stocks as much as 312,000 metric tons (MT) above the scientific advice in 2019, according to a new report published by charitable thinktank New Economics Foundation (NEF).

The latest edition of NEF’s annual “Landing the Blame” report states of the 120 total allowable catch (TAC) decisions made at the December 2018 AGRIFISH Council negotiations, 55 TACs or 46 percent were set above the advice of scientific bodies, predominantly the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). 

“This is continuing the trend of permitting overfishing in E.U. waters with Northeast Atlantic TACs set 16 percent above scientific advice on average – a big increase from the 2018 TACs (9 percent),” the report said. “The earlier negotiations for the 2019 Baltic and deep sea TACs were also set above scientific advice, with five out of 10 and eight out of 12 TACs exceeding advice, respectively.”

NEF’s historical analysis for 2001 through 2018 finds that, on average, two-thirds of TACs were set above scientific advice. While the percentage by which TACs were set above advice declined during this period – from 42 percent to eight percent in all E.U. waters, the proportion of TACs set above the advice did not.

Sweden tops the new report’s overfishing table with 52.4 percent of its Atlantic quota outside scientific advice, followed by the United Kingdom (24.3 percent) and Ireland (21.7 percent). In tonnage, the United Kingdom is at the top of the pile with the potential to fish 106,925 MT more than is scientifically recommended. It is followed by Denmark with 49,914 MT and Ireland with 34,052 MT. 

NEF highlights that Article 2.2 of the current E.U. Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) calls for fish stocks to be rebuilt to levels that can support maximum sustainable yield (MSY) where possible, and on a progressive, incremental basis at the latest by 2020 for all stocks. 

“With the 2020 deadline fast approaching, E.U. fisheries are not on track, with calculations showing that at the current rate it will take until 2034 to meet the sustainability policy objective,” the report said.  

Photo courtesy of New Economics Foundation

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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