photo of boats people and bird to illustrate story saying 2017 Fishing limits set too high for Irish Sea haddock and plaice as ministers largely ignore science

Many 2017 fishing limits set too high as ministers largely ignore science

Overfishing remains a serious threat to the ocean and to industry, as EU ministers once again set quotas with little regard for the law or scientific advice.

The annual limits cover fish in the Northeast Atlantic and North Sea, which supply 70% of fish caught in the EU.

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) legally requires fishing to be at sustainable levels by 2020 at the latest. For some stocks, ministers followed scientific advice, setting catch limits at the right level. But in some cases, they ignored it, allowing overfishing to continue.

The catch limits for all fish stocks in the Irish Sea, except herring, were set too high. Quotas for Irish Sea plaice and haddock were set 152% and 61% higher than scientific advice, respectively.

Scientists had advised a 22% cut for haddock, but instead ministers increased the quota by 25%. Although these stocks have been improving, overfishing them now could jeopardise recovery.

For three other Irish Sea stocks – cod, whiting and sole – scientists have been calling for zero catch for several years, yet ministers continue to award quota for these vulnerable stocks.

It is often hard to tell if ministers are following science and the law, because for most fish stocks there is a mismatch between the area covered by the fishing quota and the area covered by the scientific advice.

ClientEarth scientist Liane Veitch said: “While some of the 2017 catch limits are based on EU fisheries laws and sound science, many do not go far enough. Some quotas allow for serious overfishing.

“Ministers must be more ambitious to safeguard EU stocks and speed up benefits to the industry from healthier stocks. Otherwise, their short-term thinking will result in sharp shocks for fishermen and shoppers as the legal deadline for sustainable quotas is only three years away.

“The CFP requires immediate action to make fishing more environmentally sound, with 2020 as the legal deadline for all fishing to be sustainable, without exception.

“If ministers continue to defy scientific advice, industry and the economy will suffer acutely in the next few years. This will be much more disruptive than a gradual move towards more sustainable fishing, which is what the law was designed for.

“With three years to meet the deadline, there is no time to waste. We must follow the science to set sustainable fishing limits, then stick to them.”

Read our briefing: Assessing whether fishing quotas (TACs) are being set to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) – The difficulties and how they can be overcome

 

Share this...
Share on Facebook! Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn! Email!

piper60

Related articles

More from

  • seabird in midflight with sea in background

    EU rules need to protect sensitive marine species and habitats

    New rules governing fishing must be in line with EU environment laws to protect sensitive marine species and habitats.

  • person holding fish and chips for story saying esponsibility should be a priority for seafood investors

    Responsibility should be a priority for seafood investors

    Responsible investment is a key impetus for a sustainable seafood industry, and investors are increasingly expected to use their finances responsibly. How can they do this?

  • photo of sushi for story saying over 80 percent of supermarket seafood now responsibly sourced and labelled

    Over 80 percent of UK supermarket seafood now responsibly sourced and labelled

    Over 80% of seafood in supermarkets is now labelled and sourced responsibly, after a 2011 study found that shops were potentially misleading customers with sustainability claims on their fish.

  • yellow buoy on sea for story saying Commission warns lack of enforcement is undermining EU fisheries law

    Commission warns lack of enforcement is undermining EU fisheries law

    Sanctions for fishing violations are inconsistent and toothless, according to a major report released today by the European Commission.

  • Follow us

    Newsletters

    Get our regular email newsletters, they contain the latest updates on our work as well as features and articles about environmental issues, science and politics.