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Fishing Opportunities for 2014: Further Phase Out of Overfishing

31 May 2013

EU - The latest figures on the fish stocks in EU waters indicate that the European Commission's efforts to phase out overfishing have paid off.

In a consultation document adopted today the European Commission reports on the state of European fish stocks and sets out its intentions for proposing fishing opportunities for 2014. 39 per cent of assessed fish stocks in EU waters of the Northeast Atlantic are now overfished, down from 47 per cent last year and 95 per cent in 2005. The policy is starting to show real benefits for the fishing industry as well with the latest data on profits indicating an increase of 40 per cent on the previous year. Nevertheless, progress still needs to be made.

Maria Damanaki, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: “These figures show that responsible fisheries management measures can and do work. Still, we need to strengthen our efforts to end overfishing by the target date we have agreed. We need to complete the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in order to achieve that.”

Through this annual document the Commission asks for the views of Member States and stakeholders on the setting of Total Allowable Catches (TACs), quotas and fishing effort (days-at-sea) for the following year. The document shows that the Commission's efforts to phase out overfishing are starting to bear fruit. There are now 25 fish stocks in European seas which are known not to be overfished, compared to only two stocks in 2005.

The science base for assessing fish stocks is improving. New methods brought in by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) have meant that advice is available for an extra 30 stocks compared to last year.

There was an approximately 40 per cent increase in average net profits made by the EU fishing fleet since 2011, showing that improvements in income for fishermen are following on from reductions in overfishing, even though fuel costs put an extra burden on the fleet.

For next year, the Commission wants the industry to stick to scientific advice. For stocks covered by the long-term management plans, TACs and effort levels should be fixed according to the plans in force (a legal requirement). For other fish stocks, not covered by the plans, the TACs should be based on scientific advice, with a goal to phase out overfishing by 2015. Where no advice exists, the precautionary principle should be applied.

TheFishSite News Desk

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