Reaction: Why is the EU Pursuing Embarrassment Instead of Sustainable Fisheries Management?

"The STEFC report has confirmed what we already know - that the EU is not on track to meet its own 2020 deadline for sustainable fish stocks"

Brussels, 25 April 2018:- Responding to findings published in the newly published STECF (Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries) report on progress towards implementation of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, which suggest that the EU will fail to meet its own 2020 deadline, Our Fish Programme Director Rebecca Hubbard said:

“The STEFC report has confirmed what we already know – that the EU is not on track to meet its own 2020 deadline for sustainable fish stocks – yet the fishing industry keeps on lobbying for continued overfishing. Instead of achieving global stardom for sustainable fisheries management, the EU is in danger of international embarrassment, due to a lack of the leadership needed to deliver the reformed Common Fisheries Policy.”

The STECF report notes that stock status has significantly improved since 2003, but that the rate of progress has slowed in the last few years, with more than 50% of stocks remaining overfished or outside safe biological limits. The results are in line with what was reported in 2017, with progress achieved until 2016 too slow to ensure that all stocks will be rebuilt and managed according to scientific advice by 2020. The Mediterranean remains a particularly bleak picture, with business-as-usual maintaining severe overfishing and depleted stocks.

“With national political efforts being driven by fishing industry influences, it’s no surprise that EU-wide progress to end overfishing has slowed. Yet with recent low fuel prices helping EU fishing fleets make record profits, now is the time for the transition to pain-free fish stock recovery.”

“By failing to manage what is in effect an extractive industry, EU fisheries ministers are providing the fishing industry with the means for its own demise. Instead, they must end overfishing, in order to ensure the future health of EU fish stocks, the marine environment, and realise the social and economic benefits for all EU citizens, who are the rightful custodians of Europe’s seas.”

“This year, the EU Commission and member state Fisheries Ministers still have a chance to turn the ship around; they can increase the number of fish stocks they manage based on scientific advice, or face the uncomfortable realisation that they do not deserve to sit with global leaders at the sustainable fisheries table”.



Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) – Monitoring the performance of the Common Fisheries Policy (STECF-Adhoc-18-01)

According to the European Commission, “the implementation of the CFP requires the assistance of highly qualified scientific personnel, particularly in the application of marine and fisheries biology, fishing gear technology, fisheries economics, fisheries governance, ecosystem effects of fisheries, aquaculture or similar disciplines, or in the field of collection, management and use of fisheries and aquaculture data”. STEFC members “are nominated by the European Commission from highly qualified scientific experts having competence in these fields”.


Dave Walsh, Our Fish Communications Advisor, +34 691826764

Rebecca Hubbard, Our Fish Program Director, +34 657669425

About Our Fish

Our Fish works to ensure European member states implement the Common Fisheries Policy and achieve sustainable fish stocks in European waters.

Our Fish works with organisations and individuals across Europe to deliver a powerful and unwavering message: overfishing must be stopped, and solutions put in place that ensure Europe’s waters are fished sustainably. Our Fish demands that the Common Fisheries Policy be properly enforced, and Europe’s fisheries effectively governed.

Our Fish calls on all EU Member States to set annual fishing limits at sustainable limits based on scientific advice, and to ensure that their fishing fleets prove that they are fishing sustainably, through monitoring and full documentation of their catch.

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