A ban on fishing in certain European waters in order to replenish stocks has been called for by two leading fisheries scientists in a study published last month.

A ban on fishing in certain European waters in order to replenish stocks has been called for by two leading fisheries scientists in a study published last month.

The study, compiled by Alexander Proelß and 2003 Pew Marine fellow Dr. Froese, stated that if European governments wanted to abide by commitments they had made at the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (2002) then a complete ban on some European stocks was crucial.

The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation - an action plan agreed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 - lays out a target for depleted global fish stocks to be replenished to levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield by 2015.

The state of twelve stocks - including North Sea cod, plaice and halibut - are in such dire condition that even a temporary ban would not be enough to replenish them by 2015, the scientists said.

The study additionally suggests that a temporary ban would have little socio-economic cost amongst fishing communities with any short term loss compensated for by future gains in production and earnings.

The obligation to manage fish stocks such that they can produce maximum sustainable yield is part of the United Nations Fish Stock Agreement (1995) which is ratified by the EU and is also mentioned in the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries to which the EU is committed.

The scientists also blamed poor compliance with international agreements within the EU on a lack of political will amongst European ministers. The scientists said that even the Precautionary Principle – the principle that policy makers should be more cautious when information is uncertain, unreliable or inadequate – has not been adhered to within the European Commission and Council of Ministers.

The Common Fisheries Policy, which manages fisheries within the European community, will be under review in 2012 with the coming two years set to involve intense debate between member states.

Seas At Risk is actively working towards strengthening the Common Fisheries Policy in order to provide a solid legal framework and management measures to achieve sustainable fisheries across European waters.

 

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