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


Juncker Commission 1st anniversary: a ‘lost year’ for environmental protection

Press release | November 2, 2015 at 9:42

Brussels – One year since the entry into office of the current European Commission headed by Jean-Claude Juncker, environmental groups have criticised the EU executive for a paralysis in policymaking on issues related to the environment.

TTIP negotiators contemplate systematic dismantling of environmental standards,...

Press release | October 23, 2015 at 11:22

Brussels – Negotiators at EU-US trade talks ending in Miami later on Friday have discussed a system to weaken environmental standards that stand in the way of corporate interests, said Greenpeace. The talks are taking place against a backdrop of...

Ailing Baltic cod caught in political vortex

Press release | October 22, 2015 at 10:00

Brussels - EU fisheries ministers meet today to agree 2016 quotas for stocks in the Baltic Sea. With Baltic cod stocks in a worrying state, there is no room for complacency: ministers must set sustainable fishing limits for all stocks, not least...

Taiwan faces EU sanction on fisheries

Press release | October 1, 2015 at 15:01

Taipei - Three weeks after Greenpeace Rainbow Warrior busted Taiwanese tuna longliner Shuen De Ching No.888 (順得慶888號) fishing illegally in the Pacific, the European Commission has yellow carded Taiwan for failing to fight illegal, unreported and...

Commission TTIP plan retains privileged corporate justice system

Press release | September 16, 2015 at 13:19

Brussels – The European Commission’s modified plan for an Investment Court System under an EU-US trade agreement (known as TTIP) continues to give foreign investors a privileged justice system to challenge EU standards on the environment, health...

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