The European Commission published today its annual proposal on total allowable catches (TACs) in the Atlantic and the North Sea for 2018, which will be decided on the 11-12 December by fisheries ministers in Brussels. Oceana urges EU ministers to meet the legally-binding 2020 deadline for all fish stocks to be fished at sustainable levels. Currently, only 14 are in line with the Common Fisheries Policy. Oceana calls for setting catch limits based on science and adopting emergency measures, including closing fisheries, for the stocks that will not meet the 2020 deadline.
The Commission’s proposal covers 78 fish stocks, including commercially important species, such as cod, hake, anglerfish, Norway lobster, sole, haddock, and horse mackerel. Some EU stocks in particular—cod in the west of Scotland, sole in the Irish Sea, or Norway lobster in the southern Bay of Biscay—are declining at alarming levels.
“41% of fish stocks in the European Atlantic—including the North Sea—are overfished,” said Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana Europe. “Europe needs a radical change away from overfishing towards sustainable fishing. If ministers stopped overfishing, it would be good for both the environment and the economy: by rebuilding North-East Atlantic stocks and managing them at sustainable levels, EU countries could catch an additional 1.8 million tonnes of fish per year. More fish in the sea creates more food, more jobs, and economic growth,” added Gustavsson.
The good news is that rebuilding overexploited fisheries to sustainable levels can contribute nearly 5 billion euros annually to Europe’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generate over 90.000 new jobs, as calculated in a new study released earlier this year by Oceana.