39% more fish in the sea than in 2003
Fish populations have been generally increasing, reaching biomass levels 39% higher in 2016 than in 2003.
This is according to new data gathered from the North East Atlantic, which found fishing is now stabilising at sustainable levels, with a 43% decrease in overexploited stocks in the last decade. The proportion of stocks outside safe biological limits dropped by more than half during the same period. Fish populations have been generally increasing, reaching in 2016 biomass levels 39% higher than in 2003.
The data was presented at the European Commission’s ‘Scientific Seminar on Fisheries Science’ with DG MARE director general Aguiar Machado, prompting Europêche’s president Javier Garat to note that: “stocks in many areas are being fished at sustainable levels and these positive results have to be acknowledged by the EU.”
The seminar also reviewed fisheries science challenges such as integrating socio-economic advice, multispecies management transition, climate change consequences and insufficient data processing.
Although fish stock recovery is positive, the Mediterranean situation is continuing to cause concern and Garat stated that scientific advice recommends TAC cuts for certain stocks. He said: “It is clear that no matter how well we manage our stocks, fish populations will always fluctuate. We therefore call on policy-makers to look at the big picture and set the TACs for 2019 in accordance with this positive trend.”
The seminar panel agreed that there was a need to better understand the impact of the Common Fisheries Policy and scientific advice on the socio-economic performance of the EU fleets, with reference to problems associated with changing the benchmark for stock assessment methods and whether rebuilding all fish stocks at MSY levels could be counterproductive.
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