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

 

Report: Onboard Employment

Publication | March 18, 2014 at 15:00

European fisheries are facing an unsustainable situation in which previously rich, diverse fish stocks have been decimated, giving rise to an ecological, social and ultimately, economic crisis. Having depleted resources in European waters, the EU...

Delivering on the promise of sustainable fishing

Publication | February 18, 2014 at 11:56

A Greenpeace briefing on the future of EU Common Fisheries Policy

Exporting Exploitation

Publication | December 2, 2013 at 15:09

Sweden has operated a system of individual transferable quotas (ITQs) for its pelagic fleet since 2009, to reduce its fishing capacity by allowing fishermen to sell out and retire from unprofitable fishing operations. Since the introduction of...

Green10 letter on Innovation in EU

Publication | October 17, 2013 at 15:22

A letter from the Green 10 to Mr Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, Mr Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council and Mr Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission

Tomorrow's breaking news on EU fisheries reform

Publication | May 14, 2013 at 9:15

Stormy outlook for European fisheries as short-termism prevails? Or will it be clear skies ahead?

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