EUROPE – A new study has revealed that replenishing Europe’s fishing stocks could boost EU’s GDP by US$5.76 billion annually, and create over 92,000 jobs in the fishing, food manufacturing and retails sector.
About 60% of all commercial fish species are not in good environmental status as they are fished too fast, in large quantities and not allowed to reproduce, according to the study by the European Environment Agency.
EU member states had in 2013 committed to the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), where they had promised to end overfishing of all stocks by 2020.
However, according to environmental activists, the governments lack the political will to implement EU guidelines on sustainable fishing.
“The EU can still achieve the goal by 2020. The official data shows that progress has so far been too slow, but it is in the hands of fisheries ministers to set sustainable fishing limits”, said Andrew Clayton, head of the Pew Charitable trust to end overfishing in North-Western Europe.
A study made by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre showed that more than 90% of fish stocks in the Mediterranean were overexploited, with many species on the verge of depletion.
The issue of overfishing is not entirely an environmental problem; it has also led to the loss of jobs and income in the fishing sector, according to the study.
According to the World Bank, approximately US$82.3 billion is lost annually as a result of mismanagement of fisheries around the World.
This was estimated at around 15% of the whole amount attributed to Europe, which was US$11.8 billion.
According to Oceana, an international ocean conservation and advocacy organization, 3.5 million tonnes are currently fished annually in the EU, but with replenished and well-managed fish stocks, this could rise to 5.5 million, which would be a 57% increase.
The Commission had proposed a plan for small fish stocks in the Adriatic Sea earlier this year and is working on proposals on fish stocks for tuna and other endangered species in the Western Mediterranean.
“The biggest challenge we face is getting decision-makers – fisheries ministers in the Council – to overcome their reluctance to implement the Common Fisheries Policy,” said Andrew Clayton.
“Fisheries ministers need to follow the scientific advice when setting fishing limits. The ability to end overfishing is in their hands.”