Europe - 9 out of 10 fish stocks threatened

A cage full of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean. Overfishing has driven the magnificent species close to commercial extinction.

 

The European Union governs the largest maritime zone in the world and, shamefully, one of the most degraded on the planet. After four decades of EU fisheries policies, nine out of ten fish stocks are overfished. Current fisheries management fails to protect and preserve both marine biodiversity and the people who depend on it.

Despite its many reforms, the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has failed to ensure environmentally and economically sustainable fisheries. This is largely the result of bad political decision-making that favours the short-term economic interests of the fishing industry over science-based governance and sustainability, problems highlighted in a reflection paper prepared for the European Commission.

The ongoing reform of the CFP presents the EU with a once-in-a-decade opportunity, and possibly a last chance, to reverse these trends. It must stop overfishing, recover the current poor state of fish populations to healthy levels and complete the establishment of national networks of marine reserves. 

Greenpeace calls on all EU governments to:

  • reduce their excessive fishing fleet capacity and end destructive and wasteful fishing practices;
  • increase the area that is protected as marine reserves to 40%;
  • make scientifically recommended catch levels a minimum requirement;
  • ensure transparency in decision-making and data-handling as well as traceability for seafood products.

Failing fisheries come at a high price. The World Bank recently calculated that failing fisheries management is costing the world around $50 billion annually and the UN Green Economy report warns that – under business as usual scenarios – the world’s fisheries will have been reduced to a third of their 1970’s levels by 2050. It therefore urges policy makers to accelerate investments in the restoration of ecosystems.

Without fish there can be no fishing. Many fishermen already operate at a loss and more than half the seafood on the European market has to be imported. The CFP reform may be our last chance to protect our seas so future generations can enjoy their benefits.

The latest updates

 

NGOs call on European fisheries ministers to end overfishing

Publication | November 27, 2014 at 17:33

On 15 and 16 December, European fisheries ministers meeting in Brussels will decide on 2015 fishing limits for fish stocks in the Atlantic Ocean. Over 130 organisations have signed a letter asking them to end overfishing.

Three months to phase-out overfishing

Publication | October 10, 2014 at 9:00

As usual for this time of year, EU fisheries ministers are about to start haggling over fishing limits. Starting next week, the Fisheries Council will be deciding on the total allowable catches for most fish stocks in European waters for 2015/2016.

Towards low-impact and socially sustainable fishing

Publication | June 11, 2014 at 9:45

The recent CFP reform has delivered substantial progress, in particular in relation to provisions on stock and fleet management and the allocation of fishing opportunities. However, its success will critically rely on the political will of...

Italian presidency to tackle EU energy future and genetically modified crops

Publication | June 6, 2014 at 12:33

Italy will take over the six-month presidency of the council of the European Union in July 2014. During these months, a number of important environmental and energy issues will be at the heart of European politics.

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