Oceana criticises stock overexploitation in the EU

Last week, the European Commission unveiled an updated assessment of the status of fish resources and established guidelines for the allocation of next year’s fishing opportunities.

Oceana says it wants to call attention to the regrettable state of stocks and urges decision makers to set future catches decisions based on scientific advice to recover fish stocks and bring them to levels at or above maximum sustainable yield (MSY).

Oceana believes that the state of fish stocks is not a coincidence but rather a consequence of the lack of political will to follow scientific recommendations and implement regulations in force. It would otherwise be incomprehensible that overfishing affects 80% and 47% of EU stocks in the Mediterranean and Atlantic respectively.

“This year the EU fleet is going to be allowed to catch 11% 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,” stated 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.”

The organisation says that in many cases Member States simply do not provide the sound data required for the proper management of fish stocks, especially concerning fishing mortality. In the Commission’s communication, it does recognise that due to poor data the status of half of the stocks is unknown.

Oceana however welcomes the Commission’s proposal to set fishing opportunities for next year that are consistent with the MSY by 2015 goal, but says that the recommendation only applies to 33 stocks, an insignificant number when compared to the total amount of harvested stocks.

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