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

 

Saving the bluefin tuna - towards an international ban

Publication | December 9, 2009 at 0:00

This one-page media briefing, prepared jointly by Greenpeace and WWF, offers some background information on the ongoing process of introducing an international ban on the trade of bluefin tuna. The briefing outlines moves taken within the EU to...

Yellow card! 2009 Swedish EU Presidency checklist

Publication | June 25, 2009 at 0:00

The boots are on and the referee is about to blow the whistle: the Swedish Presidency is almost underway. But before the game has even started, Greenpeace has ranked the Swedish government for its performance in the lead up to this crucial moment...

OFF TARGET: European Commission 2004-2009 environmental progress report & lessons for...

Publication | June 10, 2009 at 0:00

The Green 10 coalition of environmental organisations has a track record of producing European Commission scorecards. This latest publication presents the final grades for the 2004-2009 Barroso Commission, assessing its performance in a number of...

Complaint to the European Commission on Mediterranean seagrass meadow

Publication | May 26, 2009 at 0:00

Greenpeace herewith files an official complaint with the European Commission asking it to enforce Community conservation laws in relation to the protection of Mediterranean seagrass meadows. Greenpeace provides documentation that shows that...

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...

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