Photo of fishing nets to illustrate story about overfishing rise underestimated by Commission reliance on out of date information

Overfishing rise underestimated as Commission uses out of date information

The Commission’s new report on fishing opportunities claims 31 out of 59 stocks (53%) were fished sustainably (in accordance with Maximum Sustainable Yield) in 2014, compared to 32 out of 62 stocks (52%) in 2013.

However, the Commission made this comparison using out of date information, as the scientific report it uses has updated its numbers on the basis of new data. This is not reflected in the Commission’s report, which should have compared this year’s percentage – 52% – to the most up to date percent of stocks that were fished sustainably in 2013, which was actually 56%.

The report covers 2003 to 2014, when there was a big decline in overfishing. However, the most up to date information shows even more stocks were fished unsustainably in 2014 compared to 2013, instead of the ‘considerable’ decline in the rate of overfishing that the Commission reports.

Overfishing rise underestimated while unsustainable fishing tolerated

The European Commission and Council of Ministers have been complicit in breaching EU fisheries law by allowing overfishing to continue almost three years after the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) said this must be stopped as soon as possible.

The Commission’s 2014 proposal for managing fisheries in the Baltic Sea breached EU law by allowing fishing above the sustainable level required by the CFP. The Council of Ministers went even further, proposing even greater flexibility to overfish with scant regard for fisheries law or sound science.

The Council has failed to limit fishing to sustainable levels in many fisheries, without providing the evidence required to justify its decisions. A Freedom of Information request was required to see the Council’s ‘evidence’. The FoI proved that the data behind the decisions was weak and legally unsound.


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