Sustainable fisheries: Commission details progress, profit

sustainable fisheries
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The European Commission has reiterated its commitment to sustainable fisheries in its 2019 Communication on the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy.

The Commission publishes an annual Communication detailing the progress of fish stock maintenance and the implementation EU-wide of strategies laid out in the Common Fisheries Policy. This year’s Communication further announces a public consultation to be launched tomorrow, 11 June, on the viability of economically sound and sustainable fisheries; and invites ‘interested citizens’ to participate.

The Communication lays out the EU’s success in achieving widespread good practice on sustainable fisheries, highlighting the fact that biomass levels in the North West Atlantic are now 36% higher than in 2003. Healthy levels of fish stocks have been shown to lead to improved economic performance by fisheries fleets: overall the EU’s fleet registered a net profit of €1.35bn in 2017, an increase of €0.5bn since 2016; while wages have risen on average 2.7% per year. Fleets targeting stocks which had experienced the highest levels of overfishing performed markedly worse than those fishing in better maintained areas.

Karmenu Vella, the EU’s Commissioner responsible for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: “This year we see yet again that our persistent action to restore the health of our shared fish resources are bearing fruit. Thanks to the joint efforts of fishermen, industry, authorities and scientists, our fish stocks are recovering, and the earnings of our fishermen are increasing. This is, of course, great news, but it doesn’t mean in any way that our job is done. Next year is a crucial year. All Member States agreed that by 2020 all stocks must be managed sustainably. For this, we need to step up our actions and deliver on what we set out to achieve.”

Member States have committed to reducing commercial fishing to sustainable levels by 2020, observing the Maximum Sustainable Yield – the highest rate at which habitats can be fished without compromising future stock levels. In its drive toward sustainable fisheries, the Commission aims to pay particular attention to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, both of which have suffered drastically from overfishing; with 35 out of 40 stocks well below sustainable levels in 2017.

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