We are witnessing big improvements in EU fish stocks in the North-east Atlantic whilst Mediterranean stocks are under worsening threat. This was the assessment presented by experts at the European Commission's annual 'State of Fish Stocks in European waters' seminar on the 17th September in Brussels.
The open event saw three scientists from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), and from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries present the latest biological and economic information as well as results from surveys of the sea. Participants ranging from representatives of the fishing industry and environmental organisations as well as journalists and citizens had the opportunity to discuss the latest information with experts and Commission officials whilst the Commission presented its methodology and approach to managing fisheries for sustainability.
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, has welcomed the continued improvement in the state of the stocks in northern areas and in the profitability of the fisheries, whilst identifying the current state of stocks in the Mediterranean Sea as an issue for concern.
'Hard choices have been made in the northern seas, stocks have improved and the industry has grown more profitable as a result. This is a vindication of the hard work put in by scientists and the fishing industry to protect and recover stocks. But the Mediterranean stocks are as overfished as those in the northern areas were a decade ago. The Mediterranean countries now need to get moving quickly to sort out this overfishing before it leads to serious collapses and environmental damage.'
The forum for agreeing common fisheries management measures among all the states concerned is the General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean (GFCM). The Commission will use that forum to promote a new, more local approach to phasing out overfishing, so that appropriate solutions can be found for each fishery.
The seminar formed part of the preparation of decisions for fisheries regulations in 2014, including fishing quotas. The decisions will be the first round of regulations being decided under the reformed Common Fisheries Policy.
Programme and presentations