Oceana denounces EU's failure to recover fishing resources

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Shark Plan of Action begins to take hold as fishing for two shark species ends


December 16, 2009
Madrid
Contact:
Marta Madina ( mmadina@oceana.org )




The meeting of the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers concluded yesterday night with agreements on total allowable catches (TACs) and country quotas for the Community fleet next year. The agreements reached confirm this Council’s inability to protect and manage fishery resources. Most of the decisions ignore the scientific recommendations made by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), thus condemning the future of the main commercial species and the fishing industry itself.

“The type of management being developed maintains stocks in a state of permanent overexploitation. The new fisheries management objective is clearly sustainable overexploitation. Stocks are so low that the catch is 20 times lower than 10 years ago,” affirms Xavier Pastor, Executive Director for Oceana in Europe.

One of the Council’s most unfortunate and incomprehensible decisions was to reopen the anchovy fishery in the Bay of Biscay. After an over four-year closure, the decision was made to permit fishing in January, 2010, despite ICES’ scientific reports recommending that closure continues due to the stock’s poor state. In addition, fisheries have still not been closed for those which scientists have been recommending zero TACs for as long as 11 years, like for cod in the Irish Sea, or 7 years for anglerfish in Spanish waters and 8 years for Norway lobster in the Cantabrian Sea.

According to the marine conservation organisation, this model focusing on overexploiting resources will be maintained until political administrators realise that returning from these negotiations with the highest possible quotas, regardless of the state of the resources, does not constitute a victory. Jose Rodríguez, marine scientist at Oceana, points out: I don’t know where the politicians who have been fighting to open the anchovy fishery in the Bay of Biscay will be in a few years. Unfortunately, thanks to them, we don’t know where the fishermen will be either. We can be certain, though, that the anchovy as we knew it a few years ago, will no longer be there.”

Two shark species, the spurdog and porbeagle, were also on the Fisheries Council agenda, and Oceana is pleased to see them finally getting the fisheries protection they so sorely need. Scientists have long recommended ending fishing for these endangered sharks, both overfished due to high European consumer demand. After years of allowing continued fishing, Fisheries Ministers finally agreed a zero TAC for porbeagle in 2010, and a 10% by-catch TAC for spurdog with a commitment to zero catches in 2011.

“We’re beginning to see the European Plan of Action for Sharks take affect, as Fisheries Ministers have followed scientific advice and ended targeted fishing for these two endangered sharks. Now that these two fisheries have been regulated in line with the Plan of Action, we hope to see other shark species that are important to European fisheries come under the TAC system as well”, asserted Ricardo Aguilar, Science Director for Oceana in Europe.

Oceana’s analysis: Fishing opportunities for the Community fleet for 2010. State of populations and TAC recommendations