Fish sector focus

Commission calls for major cuts to EU fish production

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union

With the EU's fish stocks under threat of depletion, the European
Commission this week said it will propose reducing catches in a bid
to restore supplies to sustainable levels.

If adopted the policy could reduce the domestic supply and result in processors having to look more and more for imports from non-EU countries.

The Commission is suggesting that the bloc adopt a maximum sustainable yield policy (MSY) to control overfishing and reduce production.

Maximum sustainable yield is the highest yield that may be taken from a fish stock without lowering its productive potential for future years.

If too much fishing takes place, the stock concerned will decrease and, as a result, catches too will subsequently decline. Most European fish stocks are now overfished, the Commission stated.

In 2002, EU member states made a commitment to maintain or restore fish stocks to levels that can produce at MSY no later than 2015.

In a policy outline the Commission proposes implementing an MSY approach, the benefits this will bring once stocks have been restored to this level, and the options for managing the 'transitional' period for stocks which are currently overfished.

Scientists have submitted reports stating that the current rates of overfishing on EU stocks vary on average from two to five times the level that would provide the highest catch.

The overfishing has led to lower catches, lower incomes for fishermen, low profitability in many fisheries, and high catches of young fish - many of which are discarded, the Commission stated.

Adopting an MSY approach will set a new political orientation for fisheries management in the European Union and will bring real benefits to fishing communities, the Commission stated.

The Commission plans to propose a series of long-term plans with the aim of bringing all major fish stocks in EU waters to rates of fishing at which maximum sustainable yields can be achieved.

For stocks jointly managed with third countries, the EU will seek to develop joint management arrangements with the same objective.

Rebuilding fish stocks means fishing less in the short term so that stocks in the sea can increase.

During this rebuilding phase, therefore, employment may decrease, the Commission stated.

Member states will have to decide how to manage the transition. They will also have to choose between developing smaller but more efficient and profitable industries or keeping higher employment levels.

Related topics Processing & Packaging

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