Study finds EU fish catches could treble if stocks rebuilt and managed sustainably

If total allowable catches followed scientific advice, many EU fish catches could more than treble in size, it has been claimed.

Fish catches in European waters could increase by 57% if fish stocks were exploited sustainably and based on scientific advice, according to new research released by Oceana, an international organisation focused on the health of the oceans.

The study analysed 397 European fish stocks compared to around 150 monitored by the European Commission.

The new study shows that the status of the EU fisheries is far from healthy, with 85% of stocks in an unhealthy state and only 12% fulfilling the commitments of the Common Fisheries Policy.

“For the first time ever, we know the potential of fish recovery in Europe and it’s good news. If we managed fish sustainably and based on science, catches can increase by 57% or five million tonnes,” said Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana in Europe. “That’s a lot of good and healthy food. It’s about time we recover the abundance of European seas as more fish in the sea means more jobs in the fishing industry and more healthy fish on European dinner tables.”

Scientists calculate potential increases of 300% or greater for catches of haddock and cod in the North Sea, some herring stocks in the Celtic Seas, and sardine in the Cantabrian Sea off the north of Spain.

Study leader Rainer Froese said: “For the first time, all European stocks have been evaluated relative to the maximum sustainable yield they can produce, as required by the new Common Fisheries Policy. Our results show that catches can be substantially increased if stocks are rebuilt and properly managed.”

The results of the research are revealed a month before a final decision for 2017 fishing limits in the North East Atlantic which will be negotiated between the EC and the 28 respective fisheries ministers during a meeting of the Council of the EU on December 12-13 in Brussels.

Meanwhile, the Government has announced its intention to enact wild salmon and sea trout tagging scheme regulations to provide for the management of the wild salmon and sea trout fishery by Inland Fisheries Ireland from January 1.

The draft regulations published by the department list “proposed maximum” numbers of tags that may be issued in respect of taking wild salmon or sea trout from each river. Some rivers are marked as “closed”, including the Slaney, one of the country’s most popular angling locations.

Editorial: 12


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