MEP Caroline Roose and MEP Isabel Carvalhais co-chaired a European Parliament Forum on Recreational Fisheries and Aquatic Environment event on 25 April 2023. MEP Roose, as the European Parliament’s rapporteur on “MSY: more fish in the sea” welcomed this opportunity to discuss new ways of guaranteeing the long-term sustainability of EU fish stocks.
conference shed light on the limits of a commercial fisheries management solely
based on the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) management tool. A focus on tonnage targets, without consideration for the
preservation of fish stocks' structures, has led to a progressive reduction in
fish size. This in turn poses a threat to the long-term sustainability of both
commercial and recreational fisheries.
MSY-centered management of stocks has driven to a weakening of fish species,
where smaller and more juvenile fish stocks are weakened to face growing
challenges: diseases, ocean warming, eutrophication and intensive fisheries” said
Markus Lundgren, Regional manager at
Sportfiskarna, a member-association of the European Anglers Alliance (EAA).
Griffiths from the Swedish University of
Agricultural Sciences presented his work on a new age-based indicator for
commercial stocks (called ABIMSY). He showed that many stocks
currently lack older fish, with past levels of exploitation (often above MSY)
resulting in a truncation in age structure, and a loss of the most productive
part of the fish population. He applied his indicator to 72 fish stocks in the Northeast
Atlantic, clearly demonstrating that it represents a readymade-tool for stock
assessment and advice that can complement the MSY approach. According to him,
alternative management objectives could lead to more desirable outcomes in
terms of spawning stock biomass (SSB) and age structure of fish populations,
with little overall costs to long-term catch.
The Anglers request that these findings
are taken into consideration, the solution to the problem being as simple as a
proper implementation of the existing EU environmental law by the EU
institutions. Indeed, the ABIMSY
indicator was primarily built to address the Marine Strategy Framework
Directive (MSFD)’s assessment of the age and size distribution of individuals
in the populations of commercially-exploited species (commonly referred to as
D3C3) – an indicator of a healthy fish population and of Good Environmental
The European Commission, represented by
officials from the Directorate-General for Fisheries (MARE) and the Directorate-General
for the Environment (ENVI) welcomed these new age criteria, a timely input to
their ongoing evaluation of the MSFD. They informed about their ongoing work
with the ICES to look further into these additional considerations as a basis
of their management decisions.
“MSY is a valuable tool for sustainable marine
fisheries management, but it must be adapted to take into account the long run
changing needs of our ecosystems.” said MEP Isabel Carvalhais.
EU politicians can count on the European anglers to support any initiatives in this sense.
Find the press release here