Environmental bodies across the EU have expressed concern over revelations in a new report that the EU may not meet its overfishing targets by 2020.
The report, released by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) as part of the committee’s ongoing process of monitoring the progress of the Common Fisheries Policy, found that action taken by Member States to mitigate overfishing and improve stock levels had slowed in recent years. 41 per cent of fish stocks in the Northeast Atlantic were found to still be at risk of overfishing; while 87 per cent of stocks in the Mediterranean were considered to be overfished.
Our Fish Programme Director Rebecca Hubbard said: “The EU’s own legally binding deadline for achieving sustainable fishing levels for all fished stocks is just around the corner, but still 41 per cent of the assessed stocks in the Northeast Atlantic are subject to overfishing. That’s not good enough if we are serious about safeguarding the future of our fisheries and oceans.”
Reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy implemented in 2013 commit Member States to eliminate overfishing in the marine areas they oversee by 2020: at the current rate of reduction, this target is unlikely to be met. Jenni Grossmann, Science and Policy Advisor at ClientEarth, said: “We strongly encourage the European Commission to propose fishing limits in line with scientific advice on sustainable fishing levels. As guardian of the EU treaties, the Commission should lead on fast and decisive progress to meet the 2020 deadline to end overfishing.”
Figures published earlier this year on the progress of EU overfishing showed that fishing quotas set by Member States for 2019 exceeded official scientific recommendations by around 312,000 tonnes, leading to criticism from scientific and environmental groups. Gonçalo Carvalho, Executive Coordinator at Sciaena, said of the STECF report: “When the STECF experts say European ministers and governments are behind schedule on ensuring an end to overfishing, it’s not just time to listen, it’s time to act.”