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Make fishing more sustainable and seas healthier – Target 4

Like agriculture and forestry, the fishing sector depends on healthy marine biodiversity, but current fishing practices are not always sustainable. While the pressure on fished species is obvious, these activities also damage the marine ecosystem as a whole. The strategy identified a number of actions to ensure we reach target 4 rapidly. The strategy mid-term review provides a detailed assessment of progress towards target 4.

What the strategy says

The EU strives to integrate biodiversity into the development and implementation of other policies. However, given the benefits that biodiversity and ecosystem services bring to many sectors, these efforts are still not sufficient. Target 4 requires that, by 2015, fishing is sustainable and that, by 2020, fish stocks are healthy. Fishing must have no significant adverse impacts on species and ecosystems so that all European oceans and seas can be ecologically diverse and dynamic, as well as clean, healthy and productive by 2020. (Read the Strategy)

In practice

We've identified 2 specific actions to deliver healthier fish stocks and seas.

  • Action 13: Ensure that the management plans of the Common Fisheries Policy are based on scientific advice and sustainability principles to restore and maintain fish stocks to sustainable levels.
  • Action 14: Reduce the impact of fisheries by gradually getting rid of discards and avoiding by-catch; make sure the Marine Strategy Framework Directive is consistently carried out with further marine protected areas; adapt fishing activities and get the fishing sector involved in alternative activities such as eco-tourism, the monitoring of marine biodiversity, and the fight against marine litter.

Some of the progress so far...

  • The latest reform of the Common Fisheries Policy took effect on 1 January 2014. It stipulates that between 2015 and 2020 catch limits should be set that are sustainable and maintain fish stocks in the long term. It also seeks to phase out the practice of discarding unwanted fish. Find out more about the integration of our EU Coastal and Marine Policy in other sectors.
  • The main goal of the Marine Framework Directive, adopted in 2010, is to achieve ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans and seas which are clean, healthy and productive by 2020. To help Member States interpret what this means in practice, the directive sets out 11 criteria, or qualitative descriptors. The first is that marine biodiversity is maintained. One important measure taken by Member States is the establishment of a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).Find out more about the protection of marine biodiversity.

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