EC: The Mediterranean is heavily overfished

26 Jun 2014
A fishing harbour in Portugal. Credit: Osvaldo Gago/CC BY-SA 3.0

A fishing harbour in Portugal. Credit: Osvaldo Gago/CC BY-SA 3.0

According to the European Commission’s latest report on the state of fish stocks, stocks in the North and West of Europe are recovering, but there are still serious problems of overfishing in the Mediterranean Sea.

In its annual consultation paper, the European Commission has set out its views and intentions for setting fishing opportunities for next year, and the document is now open to the views of stakeholders via an online public consultation, before the Commission makes its proposals for the 2015 fishing opportunities this autumn.

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 that 96% or more of the Mediterranean bottom-living fish are overfished, and for the middle-water stocks like sardine and anchovy the figure is 71% or more. For the Black Sea, all bottom-living fish and 33% of pelagic stocks are overfished.

However, there is good news elsewhere - for example, in the Northeast Atlantic area (including the Baltic and North Seas) - overfishing has fallen from 86% (30 stocks overfished out of 35 assessed) in 2009 to 41% (19 out of 46 stocks) in 2014.

"I am very worried how badly things are going in the Mediterranean Sea," European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria 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".

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