EC: Health of key fish stocks improving

Quotas for a number of key fish stocks in European waters may increase next year, as efforts to strengthen fisheries management and phase out overfishing begin to pay off, the European Commission said in a document released on Friday, World Oceans Day.

There are now 20 fish stocks in European waters that are known not to be overfished, compared to only five stocks in 2009, said the EC. They include eastern Baltic Sea cod, North Sea haddock, North Sea plaice, herring in the North, Celtic and Bothnian seas, and blue whiting in all European waters.

For example, in the northeast Atlantic and adjacent seas, overfished stocks fell from 32 out of 34 stocks in 2005 to 18 out of 38 stocks in 2012, or from 94 percent to 47 percent.

Reducing total allowable catches (TACs) in past years has made it possible to increase some TACs for 2012, resulting in at least an additional EUR 135 million in extra income for fishermen, noted the EC.

“We are now seeing some improvements towards ending overfishing, but we need to go the extra mile and adopt the CFP [Common Fisheries Policy] reform if we want to guarantee these improvements in the long term,” said Maria Damanaki, Europe’s fisheries commissioner.

But many in the environmental community, including Oceana Europe, do not agree with the EC that the health of Europe’s fisheries are improving,

“This year the EU fleet is going to be allowed to catch 11 percent more than what is recommended by scientists. The recovery of fish stocks and the sustainability of fishing activity will never be achieved if it continues this way,” said Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana Europe. “It is hardly surprising that after decades of poor management by the EU, 14 stocks are below safe biological limits — a disgrace for Europe.”


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