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


Comments on the EC communication on the state of stocks and fishing opportunities for...

Publication | October 2, 2015 at 16:23

The European Commission communication on the state of fish stocks in Europe is an annual opportunity to evaluate progress and deficiencies in the efforts to recover fish populations to a sustainable state.

Maximum sustainable yield (MSY) legal briefing

Publication | September 30, 2015 at 10:55

This briefing analyses the provisions in Article 2(2) of the CFP Regulation (1380/2013) and explains the scientific rationale for imposing an obligation to limit exploitation rates below the FMSY reference point.

EU countries fail to support sustainable and low impact fishing

Publication | May 29, 2015 at 17:06

The Common fisheries policy (CFP) has been in force for almost a year and a half now. It has delivered substantial progress on paper, but its success relies on the will of national governments to apply these rules back home. Greenpeace has looked...

Blue Manifesto for Europe’s seas

Publication | April 17, 2015 at 13:00

In this document, Greenpeace, alongside BirdLife, ClientEarth, Oceana, Seas At Risk and WWF, sets priorities for the Juncker Commission on marine protection and sustainable fisheries management.

Risky Business

Publication | April 17, 2015 at 12:30

This briefing looks at how overfishing and changes in EU fisheries laws affect the investment environment in fishing and seafood sectors.

1 - 5 of 78 results.