Some fish stocks are slowly recovering in the North Sea, but the Mediterranean is in urgent need of much more active management, scientists said today at a Commission seminar on the status of European fish stocks. We summarise the good news and bad news.
MEDITERRANEAN & BLACK SEAS
The bad news: According to all assessments, at least 90% of the fish stocks in the Mediterranean and Black Seas are overfished, i.e. catches are higher than they should be in order to make the fish stocks grow to sustainable stock sizes.
The good news: Increased research means that there is each year more knowledge about stocks. There is “enormous potential” for recovery of the Mediterranean fish stocks if the right measures are implemented, according to scientist Massimiliano Cardinale who presented the Mediterranean data. He said that fisheries in the Med need to be more selective to avoid catching the young fish. A range of measures are needed, and they can include more selective gear and protected areas, he said.
NORTH SEA & BALTIC
The bad news: The size of the cod stock in the North Sea, Eastern Channel and Skagerrak is still below safe biological limits.
The good news: That cod stock has, nevertheless, improved slightly. The trend among all stocks in general is that fishing mortality (i.e. how much fish is caught) is decreasing somewhat, leaving room for stocks to grow in size.
New method for data poor stocks: ICES, the scientific body that provides the EU with scientific advice for the North Atlantic and adjacent seas, this year for the first time presents quantitative data and advice on several stocks where there is a lack of data, such as plaice and anglerfish. Thanks to new methods ICES can now present numbers instead of just saying “fish less”.
Simplified stock information: ICES has this year for the first time published simplified versions of their stock assessments, intended to make the assessments more easily readable by the general public, without technical details. Find them here: Brief information on fish stocks 2012
ECONOMY OF THE FISHING SECTOR
The bad news: Several fleet segments are still struggling with profitability.
The good news: The EU fishing fleet moved from a loss making position in 2009 to post a profit in 2010. Improved economic performance is expected in 2011.