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

 

The case for a moratorium on high seas bottom trawl fishing

Publication | February 1, 2006 at 0:00

Briefing

Fullfilling a political promise - making marine reserves happen

Publication | February 1, 2006 at 0:00

Briefing

Murky Waters: hauling in the net on Europe’s high seas

Publication | February 1, 2006 at 0:00

This report presents some of the available data, exposing management and ownership links to Europe for 18 vessels in more detail. It stands to reason that from this information, one could verify which companies and/or countries are principally...

Marine reserves for the Mediterranean Sea

Publication | January 1, 2006 at 0:00

This Greenpeace report sets out the argument for the urgent establishment of a network of marine reserves across the Mediterranean Sea to safeguard its productivity, its marine life and its ecosystems for the many millions of people who rely on...

Black Holes in Deep Ocean Space: closing the legal voids in high seas biodiversity...

Publication | October 1, 2005 at 0:00

The international waters of the high seas are our common heritage. Most of the resources of this global commons are nonrenewable. A new UNCLOS implementing agreement needs to fill the gaping void in the current regime for the protection of marine...

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