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Baltic Sea fisheries. (Photo: Latvia Ministry of Fisheries)

Nine more stocks than in 2017 are now fished at sustainable levels

EUROPEAN UNION
Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 03:10 (GMT + 9)

Fishing businesses taht operate in the Atlantic, North Sea and Baltic Sea are obtaining higher profits due to a solid recovery of popular fish stocks like North Sea cod, which were severely depleted some years ago. This, according to EU authorities, indicates that Common Fisheries Policy’s focus on sustainable fishing is contributing to this record, both for fishermen and fish stocks.

“When it comes to fisheries, the European Union is hitting our headline targets. More fish stocks are being fished at sustainable levels than ever before. Fishermen targeting these stocks are seeing their profits and salaries go up. We’ve made a priority of the Mediterranean and Black Sea, where overfishing is worst. And where there are teething problems, we are talking to fishermen and scientists to find workable solutions, while keeping our eyes set firmly on our sustainability target,” said European Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

The responsible catch limits proposed by the European Commission for the Atlantic, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, have contributed to a drastic decline in overexploitation, the European executive affirms.

Today, 53 out of 76 stocks are fished sustainably, compared to 44 stocks in 2017. For stocks managed wholly by the EU, 97 percent are being fished at sustainable levels.

An example of this is the Northern hake, which has grown from 32,000 tonens in 2006 to 265,000 tonnes today, representing an increase of more than 700 percent. Staples like North-Sea cod, which was close to collapse a generation ago, have recently been certified as sustainable and are now back on supermarket shelves.

Fishermen are also enjoying benefits. In 2015, EU fishing fleets registered net profits of around EUR 800 million, which represented a 60 percent increase in two years, making fisheries one of the EU's strongest growing sectors.

However, in contrast to this situation, overfishing in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea is a growing concern.

In 2017, scientists found only 7 of the 60 Mediterranean stocks  to be healthy. Besides, fishing fleets are having a hard time.

For those reasons, the European Commission has made these sea basins a priority for targeted action.

Following last year’s MedFish4Ever Declaration for the Mediterranean and the Bucharest Declaration for the Black Sea, the Commission is now working with its international partners to transform the political commitments into tangible results.

As a result, riparian countries agreed measures ranging from the first ever fisheries restricted area in the Adriatic to joint inspection schemes and a management plan for turbot in the Black Sea.

The EU is also planning to adopt a regional plan of action on small-scale fisheries later this year.

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