The EU would run out of fish today, halfway through the year, if it were only to consume fish from its own waters. From July 7, Europeans start eating somebody else’s fish, according to an updated report on EU fish dependence.
A report by the new economics foundation and Ocean2012 shows that citizens are consuming far more fish than European seas can produce.
In theory, the EU “has some of the richest fishing grounds in the world, but decision-makers have failed to manage them responsibly, so to satisfy our appetite for fish, we are now exporting overfishing to other parts of the world”, said Uta Bellion, director of the Pew Environment Group’s European Marine Programme and Ocean2012 co-ordinator.
On 12 June, EU fisheries ministers nevertheless declared they want to delay the implementation of sustainable catch levels until 2020 instead of 2015 as proposed by the European Commission.
The European Parliament will vote on the fisheries reform package this fall, with the crucial vote on the basic regulation of the Common Fisheries Policy taking place in plenary in November. MEPs have tabled more than 2000 amendments to the reform proposal, some proposing measures to speed up the recovery of fish stocks because they claim this will also benefit the fishing industry and consumers, others proposing more financial support to the fishing industry because they claim that too much environmental protection will hurt fishermen.
EU member states differ in their levels of self-sufficiency. For several individual EU member states, the date on which they became dependent on fish imports has already passed – March 30 for Portugal (nearly a month earlier than last year), April 20 for Germany, April 21 for Italy, May 21 for France and May 25 for Spain.