Marine populations remain unchanged

Figures released by the WWF show that the world’s marine populations have remained unchanged for almost 30 years, despite numerous reports of stocks being overfished and exploited, says Europêche.

The Association of National Organisations of Fishing Enterprises in the European Union (Europêche) says the figures recently produced by Zoological Society of London on behalf of the WWF states that 61% of commercial fish stocks are fully exploited.

Kathryn Stack, managing director of Europêche says this “misleadingly” implies that these stocks are overfished and not sustainably exploited.In fact, if we look at the FAO report in question, it clearly states that over 70% of global fish stocks are within biologically sustainable levels (below or at MSY levels, i.e. full exploitation, which incidentally is the objective of the CFP and many RFMOs by 2020),” she said.

“It is unacceptable that an organisation such as WWF can be allowed to distort information which has a huge impact on the fishing sector's reputation,” she added.

The report has also been widely criticised for its inaccuracies with Australian Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Richard Colbeck labelling it as one of a string of misleading campaigns aimed at scaring people into making donations, rather than educating the public”.

Adding to this, Europêche says the European Commission report on the state of the fish stocks recently was “overwhelmingly positive” for many European fishing areas with stocks such as northern hake, cod and plaice in the North Sea and herring and flounder in the Baltic Sea identified as success stories. For demersal stocks in the North Sea, Celtic Sea and West of Scotland, fishing mortality rates are said to be amongst the lowest levels registered, while plaice and hake have exploded in the North Sea with the highest stocks levels observed. There are now 36 stocks being fished at MSY in the North East Atlantic, compared to 27 last year and just two in 2003, Europêche adds.

"Being selective with the facts to constantly portray fishing in the most negative light, real progress is not being made. Misleading reports such as these only serve to push the sector into further disrepute at a time when our fishermen are making huge progress towards achieving sustainable fisheries,” concluded Javier Garat, president, Europêche.

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