Oceana report records the extent of over-fishing of European stocks

Oceana reports, November 2016: In order to obtain a complete overview of fisheries in Europe, Oceana has commissioned the most comprehensive scientific report to date on the state of fish stocks in Europe and their potential productivity if managed in a sustainable way.

The findings of this independent study confirm that only a minority of European stocks can be considered well managed and that, although there are serious concerns about the current state of fish stocks, the potential for recovery is enormous.

This study is a crucial point of reference for obtaining a comprehensive understanding of the state of European fisheries and assessing the degree of compliance with the Common Fisheries Policy, especially with a view to ending overfishing.

However, the political position of the EU does not take into account either these principles or the critical situation of European fisheries. Fisheries ministers continue to pay no attention to science and seek to increase catches in declining fish stocks, on the basis of myopic socio-economic arguments.

So far, assessments of the state of EU fisheries have been incomplete and covered a limited number of stocks and areas, making it difficult to assess the results of fisheries management decisions.

The results of the current study incorporate for the first time most of the exploited fish stocks on which data exist, ie 397 populations of 120 species from all European ecoregions.

Unfortunately, the evaluation shows that the state of EU fisheries is far from being good. Among the findings of the report include:

  • The EU fish stocks are at unhealthy levels
  • 64% of the population suffer from overfishing
  • Sustainable fisheries could increase EU catches of fish by more than 57%

Populations of endangered fish

The biomassbiomass The amount of living matter. This is therefore a different measure to numbers of organisms. So, for example, there is much more biomass in 1 elephant than there is in 1000 fleas and there may be more biomass in 100 large cod than you would find in 150 small (because of over fishing) cod. of most European stocks (85%) is well below sustainable levels that can generate sustainable catches.

Particularly worrisome is the state of more than half of the fish stocks analysed, 202 (51%), whose biomass is outside the biological safety limits and for this reason their reproduction can be endangered.

Among them, the state of 52 is even more worrying, as they are seriously depleted and are threatened with collapse.

The areas with the highest percentage of stocks with healthy biomass levels are the Barents and Norway seas (67%), while surprisingly only 2.8% of Mediterranean stocks have healthy biomass.

Although fishing pressure has shown a decreasing trend in some ecoregions in recent years (mainly in some Atlantic ecoregions), overfishing is still widespread and affects 254 European fish stocks (64%), jeopardizing the recovery of Stocks above healthy levels.

The ecoregions with the highest percentage of sustainably exploited stocks are the Barents Sea and Norway with 83%, while the Black Sea and the Mediterranean have the lowest percentage, with values ​​around 15%.
The Common Fisheries Policy

Only 47 European fish stocks (12%) meet the requirement of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to have healthy biomass (B> Bmsy) and fish mortality not subject to overfishing (F <Fmsy). The remaining 350 (88%) are either recovering to meet these conditions or persisting in a state of overexploitation.

By ecoregions, the Barents and Norway seas have the highest percentage of stocks (50%) that meet the objectives of the CFP, while the Mediterranean is the furthest, with less than 1% (a stock of 169) In this condition.

This situation means that current catches come in the majority of cases from fish stocks smaller than their potential size and unsustainable fishing pressure.

There is an urgent need to reduce fishing pressure and restore stocks to healthy levels in the short term so that, once achieved, long-term catches will be maximized.


Source: Oceana Press Release, November 2016. For further details, see http://eu.oceana.org/es/nuestras-campanas/recuperar-la-pesca-en-la-ue/vision-general

Oceana Report: Exploitation and Status of European Stocks, November 2016, see


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