Oceana urges EU Member States to reduce 2013 fishing opportunities to recover fish stocks

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Over the past 10 years fisheries ministers have set TACs that were on average 41% higher than sustainable catch levels thereby depleting stocks of key commercial species


December 14, 2012
Madrid
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Next week, on the 18th and 19th December, the Council of European Fisheries Ministers will meet in Brussels to agree on the 2013 catch limits for the main commercial species in the North East Atlantic. Oceana, in a recent report submitted to Member States, has urged them to use a precautionary approach in adjusting total allowable catches (TACs), thereby shifting from short-term economic interests towards long-term sustainable goals. The international marine conservation organization emphasizes that in no situation should catches ever go above the scientific advice.

To date European fisheries management has failed to manage resources sustainably, with more than half of fish stocks overfished, and some including stocks of highly consumed species like herring, haddock, whiting, sole or cod, in a situation so poor they are in some cases considered to be depleted. This mismanagement is fueled by a consistent disregard of scientific advice such that over the past 10 years, ministers have set TACs that were on average 41% higher that recommended. Oceana has condemned the overall mishandling of EU resources over the years and recommended in its own proposals that TACs be reduced for most of the stocks so as to encourage recovery to healthy levels.

“Although the management of fisheries in the EU has somewhat improved in recent years, further efforts are urgently needed to firmly recover the stocks,” stated Xavier Pastor, Executive Director at Oceana. “Only healthy fish populations can ensure the sustainability and profitability of the fishing industry, and the path to achieving this objective passes directly through setting catch limits strictly in accordance with scientific advice”.

Despite an EU commitment to manage fish stocks at Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) by 2015, only a minority of the managed stocks is currently exploited at MSY levels. The MSY approach should be the basis on which stocks are managed as it will lead to a significant improvement in the state of the resources, the profitability of the sector and the viability of the communities dependent on the resources.

Recovering stocks to levels over MSY is essential to restoring stocks and reaching economic efficiency,” added Javier Lopez, Marine Scientist at Oceana. “Next week’s decision will be a clear indicator of Member States’ will to move forward or to perpetuate the overexploitation of the fish stocks”.

 

Oceana fishing opportunities recommendations for 2013 

Commission proposals for stocks in EU waters and international waters