Sea facts and figures

2012 FACTS AND FIGURES
24/04/2012: Facts and figures on the Common Fisheries Policy – Basic statistical data 2012 (European Commission)

THE FISHERIES CRISIS

* According to scientific studies the biomass of predatory fish in the North Atlantic has declined by over 80 percent between 1900 and 2000. (Source: Dr Villy Christensen, University of British Colombia, Canada)

* The North Sea has been one of the richest fishing grounds in the world: in 1995 it produced five per cent of total world fish landings.  Since then, catches have fallen from 3.5 million tonnes a year to less than 1.5 million tonnes in 2007. (Source: European Commission, Factsheets on the CFP. 2008)

* 93 percent of cod fished in the North Sea are fished before they reached the age of sexual maturity. A cod can become forty years or more if it has the chance to live. (Source: European Commission, Green Paper on the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. 2009)

* The EU fleet has reduced by about two to three per cent per year since the last reform in 2002. However, it is estimated that this reduction has been neutralised by technological advances and increased efficiency in the fishing fleet. This “technological creep” is calculated to be in the range of two to four percent per year. (Source: European Commission Reflections on further reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. 2008)

* Between 1995 and 2005 EU catches in live weight have decreased by 30 per cent, according to Eurostat figures. (Source: European Commission, Reflections on further reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. 2008)

* Total employment in the EU fisheries sector decreased by 23 percent between 1997 and 2005 (Source: European Commission, A diagnosis of the EU fisheries sector. 2010)

* More than 60 percent of fisheries products consumed in the EU are now imported. (Source: European Commission Reflections on further reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. 2008)

* In several Member States it has been estimated that the cost of fishing to the public budgets exceeds the total value of the catches. This means that European citizens pay for their fish twice: once at the shop and once again through their taxes. (Source: European Commission, Green Paper on the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. 2009)

* According to estimates, EU fisheries subsidies have been given to member states such as Sweden, Poland and Spain to the value of more than 27 000 euro per employee and year (2001-2006). (Source: Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd and Pew Environment Group, FIFG 2000–2006 Shadow Evaluation. March 2010)

* Of the around 400 000 people employed in EU fisheries sector, around 141,110  are employed in the fish catching sector; this is less than 0.1% of total employment in the EU. Spain, Greece and Italy account for 60% of employment in the catching sector. (Source: European Commission, Facts and Figures on the Common Fisheries Policy, 2010)

* The total income generated by EU fisheries sector in 2005 was 10.9 billion euros. This is 0.1% of EU GDP. Most of the income is concentrated in a small number of coastal areas. (Source: European Commission, A diagnosis of the EU fisheries sector. 2010)

* Within the EU, the biggest producers in terms of volume are Spain and Denmark. Spain is also the far greatest recipient of fisheries funds, receiving almost half of EU subsidies, and using more than half of the EU fisheries agreements with third countries.

* There are approximately 85.000 vessels in the EU fishing fleet, varying from small artisanal boats to large factory ships operating across the globe. Spain is the largest fleet in the EU in terms of the size and power of the fleet. (Source: European Commission, Facts and Figures on the Common Fisheries Policy, 2010)

DEVELOPMENT IN WORLD FISHERIES

The fishing power of a 13 meter trawler increased by 260% in 30 years from 1965 to 1995.
Source: Sissenwine and Symes, Reflections on the Common Fisheries Policy.

Graph

* The graph above clearly shows the increase of fish catching capacity (both in terms of number of vessels and fishing power) between 1970 and 2005, while at the same time the amount of catches fell.  (Source: The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, World Bank and FAO. 2008)

* Global fisheries subsidies are estimated at between $30 and $34 billion annually. At least $20 billion per year go to supporting fishing capacity, such as boats fuel etc. These harmful subsidies equal more 25 percent of the value of the world fish catch. (Source: Pauly, D. and R. Sumaila. 2006. Catching more bait: A bottom-up re-estimation of global fisheries subsidies. University of British Columbia, Fisheries Centre Research Report. Vol. 14, No. 6)

* Up to 90 percent of all the worlds oceans big fish, so called predators, have been fished out in fifty years, according to scientists (Source: Myers, R. A., and Worm, B. Rapid worldwide depletion of predatory fish communities, Nature, 2003)

KEY EU FISH CATCHES

* Total catches in the EU in 2007 totalled 5 135 540 tonnes, making the EU the third largest fisheries producer in the world, after China and Peru. The leading fishing countries are Spain, Denmark, UK and France, which together account for half the catches.  (Source: European Commission, Facts and Figures on the Common Fisheries Policy, 2010)

* In the EU, 63 percent of landings involve species subject to TACs (Total Allowable Catches). The rest of the catches are fished without any quotas. 44 percent are pelagic species (herring, sprat, blue whiting, mackerel, horse mackerel, anchovy, swordfish and bluefin tuna). 19 percent  are of demersal species (sandeels, cod, hake, plaice, Norway lobster, saithe, haddock, Norway pout, whiting, sole, monkfish, Northern prawn, flounder, rays, Greenland halibut, dab, megrims, beaked redfish, pollack, turbot, brill and salmon). (Source: European Parliament, the Common Fisheries Policy – a practical guide. 2009)

* Between ten and sixty percent of catches, depending on the fishery, are thrown back into the sea as unwanted catch, either dead or dying. (Source: European Commission, Factsheets on the CFP. 2008)

* In the North Sea the annual discards are estimated at 500 000 to 800 000 tonnes. (Source: European Commission, Factsheets on the CFP. 2008)

FISHERIES PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENTS

* The EU has more than 20 fisheries agreements with third countries, of which currently 15 are into force with developing nations. The EU pays around 150 million euro a year for access to foreign fishing grounds, mainly in western Africa. (Source: European Commission)

* The biggest agreement is currently with Mauretania, worth 86 million euros a year. That corresponds to one third of the country’s state budget. Also the agreement with Guinea-Bissau is in the order of one third of the country’s state budget. (Source: Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. 2009)

* The most controversial agreement is presently the one with Morocco, (36.1 million euros a year) since it also includes the waters of the occupied territory of Western Sahara.

* In most of the agreements the EU pays 90 percent of the access fees, and private ship owners only ten percent. More than fifty percent of the agreements are utilized by Spanish ship owners. (Source: Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. 2009)