European fish stocks on the rise

01 Oct 2014
The time fishing vessels spend at sea has decreased, but net profit, landings and income has increased. Photo: Gail J. Cohen

The time fishing vessels spend at sea has decreased, but net profit, landings and income has increased. Photo: Gail J. Cohen

Europêche has welcomed scientific data presented at the European Commission’s recent ‘State of Fish Stocks’ seminar that revealed a positive long-term trend of increasing fish populations and reduction of fishing mortality.

The panel explained that many stocks have recovered and have delivered stable and sustainable catches, highlighting that long-term management plans and consequent management over the years have been successful. Stocks such as northern hake and plaice in the North Sea and herring in the Baltic Sea were identified as success stories.

However, Eskil Kirkegaard, leading ICES-scientist, said there are still many obstacles to overcome since scientists are still unable to explain the situation with eastern Baltic cod. "We have observed a decrease in fishing mortality and juveniles but in spite of these positive parameters, the stock does not grow."

“Fishermen will soon face a tough time with the first phase of the new discard ban coming into place in January with virtually no period of adjustment. The December Council will also be the first time fishing opportunities take account of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) objectives so it is essential that the positive trends and advice we have seen today in many stocks are translated into positive quotas,” added Javier Garat, president, Europêche.

Since 2008, the time fishing vessels spent at sea has decreased, but the landings, net profit and income of the crew have increased, according to Anton Paulrud, chair of the expert group on the Annual Economic Report of the STEF. It was said that the drivers of such positive developments have been the recovery of the stocks, lower fleet capacity, good first sale price and stable consumer demand. In addition, progress has been made in energy efficiency and gear selectivity.

Despite this, the sector is said to still be vulnerable because of rising fuel prices, loss of fishing grounds devoted to nature conservation and offshore windfarms. The low number of young people entering the sector, reduced quotas and market saturation are also adding to the problems.

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