Brussels, 18th December 2013. Fisheries Ministers yesterday evening agreed surprisingly fast on fishing opportunities for European fish stocks in 2014, but failed in many cases to follow scientific advice.

The Ministers’ decisions will see 27 stocks harvested according to maximum sustainable yield (MSY) in 2014, bringing this up to 30 stocks in 2015. This shows some progress, compared to the 25 in 2013, but given that all stocks in EU waters should be managed according to MSY from 2015 on, much remains to be done.

Brussels, 18th December 2013. Fisheries Ministers yesterday evening agreed surprisingly fast on fishing opportunities for European fish stocks in 2014, but failed in many cases to follow scientific advice.

The Ministers’ decisions will see 27 stocks harvested according to maximum sustainable yield (MSY) in 2014, bringing this up to 30 stocks in 2015. This shows some progress, compared to the 25 in 2013, but given that all stocks in EU waters should be managed according to MSY from 2015 on, much remains to be done.

Monica Verbeek, Executive Director of Seas At Risk said: “It is encouraging to see that Ministers are taking steps to put the new agreement on the Common Fisheries Policy into practice and set sustainabe fishing limits for more stocks. However, ministers still choose to ignore scientifc advice for several stocks, clearly giving in to short term interests. The Council will have to change course on this soon, if it wants the MSY objectives of the new CFP to be met.”

The ministers followed scientific advice in cases such as haddock West of Scotland, northern hake, herring in the Irish Sea, or megrim in Iberian waters, but ignored it for stocks such as haddock in the Irish Sea, whiting and nephrops in the Bay of Biscay, or common sole and plaice in the English channel.

Last week the European Parliament agreed on the final text of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which means that the new regulation will come into force in 2014. The objective of the new CFP is to have all stocks fished at MSY by 2015 where possible, and at the latest by 2020.

Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat urged ministers before their meeting to set catch limits according to scientific advice, to follow existing long-term management plans once these have been scientifically assessed and are consistent with the MSY approach, and to reduce catch limits for stocks of which the status relative to MSY or appropriate proxies is unknown.

For more information, contact

Bjorn Stockhausen, Seas At Risk Policy Officer, mobile +32 470 604 509