One of the fundamental objectives of the EU's reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is that stocks are to be fished at a level corresponding to a maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by 2020 at the latest. Fishing at MSY levels allows the fishing industry to take the highest amount of fish from the sea while keeping fish stocks healthy. In 2009, only five stocks had Total Allowable Catches set at MSY. The agreement will bring 44 stocks to MSY levels.
Commissioner Karmenu Vella commented on the outcome of the Council:
"Today we have taken another important step towards sustainable fisheries, a core objective of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy. I am proud to say that our push for healthy fish stocks is starting to pay off: following years of disciplined fisheries policy, scientists this year advised increasing catch limits for several stocks in the Atlantic and North Sea. This is encouraging, and shows that sustainability really does get fishermen the best deal."
Evidence indicates that effective conservation policies and economic profitability go hand in hand. The economic performance of the EU fleet has improved considerably, from a loss-making position in 2008 to generating increasingly higher net profits in the past 3 years. This increased profitability is very much driven by the increase in the amount of stocks being fished sustainably. The faster the transition to MSY, the higher the long-term benefits.