EVENT REPORT – More big fish in the sea! Questioning the MSY paradigm for a sustainable long-term marine fisheries management

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22 May

On 25 April, MEP Caroline Roose and MEP Isabel Carvalhais co-chaired a conference of the RecFishing Forum on “More big fish in the sea! Questioning the MSY paradigm for a sustainable long-term marine fisheries management”. The conference report is now available.

During this event, two key scientists provided paramount contributions to the discussion on highlighting the limits of the current MSY paradigm and shedding light on its possible upgrade.

Markus Lundgren, biologist, and regional manager at Sportfiskarna (EAA Sweden), pointed out the limits of the Maximum Sustainable Yield and advocated for the importance of long-term sustainability of fish stocks. “The current situation is one of officially sanctioned overfishing. As it is now, I am not sure about what the ‘S’ means in ‘MSY’ but I doubt that it can mean ‘sustainable’ “ Lundgren said.

Then, Christopher Griffiths, from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, proposed the consideration of an age-based indicator for fisheries management, the ABIMSY.  As Griffiths claimed, “we could potentially catch the same number of fish and bigger fish in the long run, by integrating an age-based indicator to the MSY and ensuring that stocks have the age structure they need to sustain an advised level of catch”.

The two presentations were followed by a very interesting discussion took place with the participation of Raluca Ivanescu from the Directorate-General of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE), Deputy Head of Unit, Marine Conservation and Fishing Opportunities in the North Sea, Baltic Sea, and Atlantic EU Waters, and Silvia Bartolini from the Directorate General for Environment (DG ENV), Head of Unit C.2, Marine Environment & Clean Water services. Stakeholders had the opportunity to share their points of view with the European Commission, which is currently undertaking an evaluation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, expected to be finalised in the second quarter of 2024. In this discussion, Olivier Portrat, CEO of EFTTA, reminded that anglers cannot be under-estimated anymore, affirming that they should have their say in the policy-making process. Fred Bloot, EAA President, underlined that a better fish stocks structure would benefit to everyone.

MEP Isabel Carvalhais gave the final words by calling for a more holistic approach to address fisheries management issues.

Download the event report here

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