On the 26th of September, the annual Seminar on the Status of European Fish Stocks and the Economic situation of European fishing fleets took place in Brussels. As mentioned by João Aguiar Machado, Director General of DG MARE during the opening speech, this seminar is a good exercise in view of the decision on fishing opportunities for next year.
First came a comparison between the EU and US fisheries management systems presented by Mr Ernesto Peñas Lado, DG MARE Principal Adviser. He explained that the US system is more flexible in the legislative areas, and more efficient in the aspects of surveying stocks and reducing bycatch than the EU.
Then, Mr Ernesto Jardim, Senior Fisheries Scientist of the Joint Research Centre (JRC), showcased the long-term fishing trends with respect to Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) to be expected. Mr Jardim signalled that significant improvements in decreasing overfishing took place in the Northeast Atlantic. However, the Mediterranean and the Black seas are still under pressure, and see critical decrease in biomass. Progresses seem too slow to ensure that all stocks will be rebuilt and managed according to FMSY by 2020.
Mr Eskild Kirkegaard introduced the findings of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) regarding the biological status and development of the main stocks in the Northeast Atlantic and in the Baltic Sea. Overall, the efforts to reduce overfishing are already showing results. The Baltic Sea and North Sea are still under pressure and needs to be monitored. It is however unlikely that the 2020 MSY target will be reached.
Finally, Mrs Clara Ulrich, Chair at the STECF, depicted the situation of the main stocks in the Mediterranean Sea. The state of data on Mediterranean fish stocks is dismal, the Eastern Mediterranean not being monitored since 2012. 78% of fish stocks monitored are overfished, with no apparent reduction on catches under way. The 2020 objectives will not be reached and a total catches reduction is required.
We, EAA and EFTTA, took note that Mr Ernesto Peñas Lado made this comment when comparing US and EU management of recreational sea fisheries (US: 10.4 Mill sea anglers; EU: 8 mill), that we shouldn’t forget that management and enforcement of recreational fisheries is very costly. Well, we have heard that before but never seen any figure. We would very much like to see in euros what “very costly” really means, not the least in comparison with the hundreds of millions of Euros spent on management and funding of the commercial fisheries sector every year. The control infrastructure is in place in all countries as that is simply a requirement from EU control regulation. Sea angling is already controlled in most if not all EU countries with a coast line. So, money is not needed to establish a new control infrastructure but to expand on what there is already. And that should be done anyway. The control efforts with regard to cheating and illegal fishing have always been less than what we would have liked it to be. Some improvements have happened recent years but more is still needed.
More information on the European Commission website