Brussels - Fisheries Ministers yesterday evening agreed on fishing opportunities for European fish stocks in 2015, but did not follow scientific advice or end overfishing in all cases.

While for several stocks the adopted Total Allowable Catches (TACs) are in-line with the commitment to end overfishing and are going to be managed according to Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), much remains to be done if all stocks in EU waters are to be managed in a way that will ensure their long-term health from 2015 on.

Dr Monica Verbeek, Executive Director of Seas At Risk: “This is the third time this year that the Council has not followed the rules as agreed to under the new Common Fisheries Policy. While we see some improvement compared to last year, Fisheries Ministers failed to end overfishing for most stocks in 2015 without justification, even though this is now legally required. Looking at the many stocks for which they simply agreed to the same quota as last year, Ministers do not seem to be inclined to rebuild stocks to abundant levels. Still, that is what the Ministers signed up to last year, and what will create a prosperous fishing industry. It seems they are still clinging on to their existing bad habits of ignoring scientific advice for short term profit.”

Only in some cases, such as herring, horse mackerel and southern hake, Fisheries ministers followed the scientific advice. Several stocks had required strong quota reductions to end their overfishing, but for the majority of these stocks where such advice was available, the Council agreed on lower reductions than advised (e.g. sole, cod and haddock in the Celtic Sea and megrim in the Bay of Biscay). Further, for those stocks that are in such detrimental shape that the scientists advised to close the fishery in 2015, the Council still set quotas (e.g. cod in the Kattegat and the Irish Sea and sole in the Irish Sea).

Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat had urged ministers before the meeting to adhere to the objectives agreed under the reformed CFP, to set catch limits following scientific advice, and to reduce catch limits for stocks of which the status relative to MSY or appropriate proxies is unknown. You can see the full briefing here.


For more information, please contact:

Björn Stockhausen, Fisheries Policy Officer, 
+32 470 604 509, bstockhausen(at)seas-at-risk.org