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Increased Income a Reality if EU Votes for Fish Stock Recovery

16 October 2012

EU - Enabling fish stocks to return to healthy and sustainable levels will result in an increase in landings, profit and income for the fisheries sector and fishermen, according to a new independent study launched by WWF.

The Socio-Economic Benefits of a Bold EU Fisheries Reform research carried out by Framian BV and commissioned by WWF, is the first to examine the potential social and economic benefits of the fisheries sector from a purely European Union (EU) perspective, providing strong arguments for an ambitious reform of Europe’s fisheries, which is presently up for review.

If politicians vote for a strong EU fisheries reform with proper implementation that will allow fish stocks to recover, just 10 years from now in 2022, we could start seeing huge benefits compared to continuing past trends:

  • EU fishermen could land an additional 2.8 million tons of sustainably caught fish - an increase of around 80 per cent
  • The fisheries sector could generate an extra income of €2.1 billion per year - around 80 per cent more
  • Across the EU, income per fisherman could be up to 50 per cent higher on average than it is today

“EU fisheries have the potential to be highly productive. A long-term stable supply of fish is possible, but only if fish resources are managed sustainably. Now is the time to put the much needed policy and financial structures in place and put a stop to bankrupting our oceans,” says Tony Long, Director at WWF’s European Policy Office.

"In 2012 we have seen some positive signs on stocks and even profits, but these reflect substantial efforts in certain fisheries and remain an exception rather than the rule, when looked at across European Waters."

Over the past 15 years, EU fisheries have been in continuous decline. Landings and employment have been falling at a steady rate of four per cent per year and fishermen’s incomes have stagnated. The discussion paper draws some stark conclusions for the future if the status quo continues. With no strong fisheries reform, by 2022:

  • EU fishermen could land 1.4 million tons of fish less compared to 2009 - about 30 per cent less
  • EU fishing fleets could decrease by as much as 20 per cent
  • 50,000 fishermen will have lost their jobs across the EU – that’s a 30 per cent drop in employment, compared to 2009

"EU fisheries have been close to the edge of bankruptcy. Fisheries ministers and the European Parliament need to heed the call of thousands of consumers and businesses across Europe who want to see a prosperous future for fish stocks, our fishing industry and our oceans. Our politicians have the opportunity and the power to secure profit for industry and income for fishermen - so they must ensure a progressive reform of the Common Fisheries Policy," concludes Tony Long.

After decades of poor management by fisheries ministers they have a chance, for the first time ever, to ensure progressive reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and secure a prosperous future for fish stocks and in turn the fishing sector.

WWF is calling for a Common Fisheries Policy that:

  • Ensures fish populations are above levels which can support maximum sustainable yield (BMSY) by 2015
  • Establishes multi-annual plans by 2015 and fishery-based co-management groups involving all stakeholders
  • Enhances cooperation at regional level on sustainable management of fish stocks
  • Stops the wasteful practice of discarding unwanted fish while bringing unwanted catches close to zero by 2018 at the latest
  • Limits subsidy payments to sustainable fishing practices

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