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


Greenpeace 'scraps' trawler on streets of Brussels

Video | December 13, 2010 at 14:55

Ministers have consistently set fishing quotas above levels recommended by scientists. Greenpeace is calling on EU governments to 'scrap overfishing' and take destructive fishing ships off the water.

Bluefin Tuna Action in the Mediterranean Sea

Video | June 13, 2010 at 16:09

Activists from the Greenpeace ships Rainbow Warrior and the Arctic Sunrise launched high speed inflatable boats in an attempt to submerge one side of a purse seine fishing net to free the trapped tuna. As the action started on the French vessel,...

Greenpeace expone la destrucción por parte de España de los oceanos

Video | May 3, 2010 at 16:45

Una vez colapsadas las existencias en Europa,la flota pesquera española se dedica a saquear ahora aguas lejanas como la Antártida y África, usando para ello el dinero de los contribuyentes europeos, tal y como publica hoy un informe de Greenpeace...

The World's Largest Tuna Fishing Vessel

Video | May 29, 2008 at 17:29

We chased it for 5 days, but as dawn broke over the Pacific this morning we finally confronted the biggest tuna fishing vessel in the world. The Spanish-owned and flagged tuna purse seiner "Albatun Tres" is known as a 'super, super seiner' and...

Greenpeace action at European Seafood Exposition - Video

Video | April 23, 2008 at 17:45

Much of the seafood on display at the Expo is either endangered or has been fished using destructive techniques - or both. Ending overfishing and destructive fishing is not only crucial to saving our marine environment, it is vital to the very...

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