Fishing opportunities in EU waters in 2012: getting the balance right to reduce overfishing
Today the European Commission published its report on progress achieved in the Common Fisheries Policy over the last few years and its suggestions for fishing opportunities in EU waters in 2012.
Commissioner Maria Damanaki emphasized that she intends to introduce a new, precautionary approach when proposing fishing possibilities: for fish stocks where scientific evidence exists, the Commission's proposals will follow this closely. When insufficient scientific data is available, the Commission will propose to systematically reduce catches. This approach would phase out overfishing and encourage better data collection and reporting by Member States. The Commissioner said: "To phase out overfishing we must manage fish stocks so they can rebuild and provide the highest long-term average catches that the sea can provide. This will not only improve the state of Europe's fish stocks and lower the impact of fishing on the environment. It will also improve the economic profitability of Europe's catching sector".
Extracts from the press conference on fishing opportunities in EU waters in 2012
Commissioner Damanaki's speech [39 KB] at the press conference on fishing opportunities in 2012
This way of fishing will bring significant benefits and will mean a change from fishing intensively on scarce resources to fishing lightly on larger stocks. The same or larger quantities will be caught, but with lower impact on the environment. This means less damage to sea bottoms, less by-catches of vulnerable organisms, such as porpoises, dolphins and other marine mammals and less fuel used – because it takes less fishing time to catch a tonne of fish from an abundant stock than from a scarce one; this will in turn contribute to reducing carbon emissions and the fuel expenditure of fishing vessels.
The document presented today sets out how the Commission intends to act on the scientific advice it receives about the state of fish stocks when proposing catch limits and quotas for next year for all the main fish stocks. The latest figures show that the state of fish stocks in European waters is slowly improving, but sufficient scientific data is still missing for the majority of the stocks, mainly due to inadequate reporting by member states. The Commission will therefore be using a new method for setting fishing limits, notably cutting levels where insufficient data exist. The Commission's ideas will now be the object of a wide consultation over the summer and input will feed into its proposals for fishing opportunities for next year which will be adopted in the autumn.