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Fishing opportunities for 2014: further phase out of overfishing

(18/06/2013) The latest figures on the fish stocks in EU waters indicate that the European Commission's efforts to phase out overfishing have paid off.

A consultation document adopted by the European Commission reports on the state of European fish stocks and sets out its intentions for proposing fishing opportunities for 2014. At present, 39% of assessed fish stocks in EU waters of the Northeast Atlantic are overfished, down from 47% last year and 95% in 2005. The policy is starting to show real benefits for the fishing industry as well with the latest data on profits indicating an increase of 40% on the previous year. Nevertheless, progress still needs to be made.

Maria Damanaki, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: “These figures show that responsible fisheries management measures can and do work. Still, we need to strengthen our efforts to end overfishing by the target date we have agreed. We need to complete the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in order to achieve that.”

Through this annual document the Commission asks for the views of Member States and stakeholders on the setting of Total Allowable Catches (TACs), quotas and fishing effort (days-at-sea) for the following year.. There are now 25 fish stocks in European seas which are known not to be overfished, compared to only 2 stocks in 2005.
 
The science base for assessing fish stocks is improving. New methods brought in by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) mean that advice is available for an extra 30 stocks compared to last year.

The EU fishing fleet’s average net profits have gone up by approximately 40% since 2011. This shows that fishermen’s income can improve from reductions in overfishing, even with additional fuel costs.  For next year, the Commission wants the industry to continue along the same lines. For stocks covered by the long-term management plans, TACs and effort levels should be fixed according to the legal requirements. For other fish stocks, not covered by the plans, the TACs should be based on scientific advice, with a goal to phase out overfishing by 2015. Where no advice exists, the precautionary principle should be applied.

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