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

 

Reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy

Publication | April 16, 2009 at 0:00

The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which sets the rules for the European fishing industry, is about to undergo a fundamental review. By 2013, the CFP’s central piece of legislation – the so-called Basic Regulation (2371/2002) – will be...

The Ecosystem Approach - protecting marine life in all its forms

Publication | May 21, 2008 at 15:38

The ecosystem approach is vital if we are to ensure the health of our oceans for future generations.

The Ecosystem Approach - protecting marine life in all its forms

Publication | May 14, 2008 at 12:49

The world's oceans, once thought to contain inexhaustible resources, are under increasing threat. In recent years, scientific study after scientific study has pointed to the fact that human activities and fishing in particular have been putting...

Greenpeace's Submission to the Consultation on the Commission's Maritime Green Paper

Publication | July 12, 2007 at 0:00

Greenpeace appreciates the opportunity to comment on a possible future maritime policy but disagrees with the notion that Europe ought to be promoting an expansion of economic activity in the maritime sector when existing activity levels are...

What constitutes a healthy marine environment?

Publication | June 1, 2007 at 0:00

Defining Good Environmental Status in the context of the European Marine Strategy Directive

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