The problem - too much fishing

Background - March 24, 2011
Overcapacity in the EU’s fishing fleets is a principle driver of fish stock depletion. There are simply too many boats chasing too few fish. According to the European Commission, the EU fleet is at present capable of catching between two and three times the sustainable level of fish.

A Dutch mega-trawler. At over 140 metres, it can process 300 tonnes of fish a day and store 6,000. Europe's fishing industry has ravaged its waters and is now plundering Africa's.

Despite attempts to cut fleet size, fishing remains consistently above the scientifically recommended levels. Immediate and swift cuts are needed, if the EU is to achieve a recovery of fish populations, 90% of which are being overfished. In fact, scientists argue that fish catches could be 80% higher if the EU managed stocks sustainably.

The EU fishing fleet is predominantly composed of small vessels from labour intensive coastal fisheries. However, large powerful vessels that employ destructive fishing methods take the vast majority of the catch. Fisheries subsidies further fuel the building of ever larger and more destructive fishing vessels.

Greenpeace demands changes to the CFP that require reductions in fleet size and impact, and prioritise access to the fishery for sustainable, low-impact, smaller-scale fisheries that contribute most benefits to local, coastal communities.


Europe's fishing problems and answers captured in a poignant three minute video