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The Issue

Published: 19/12/2010

The oceans and their resources are under enormous pressure. The latest report from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicates that 32 percent of the world’s fisheries stocks are currently being overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion.

Only 15 percent of the stock groups monitored by FAO were estimated to be able to produce more than their current catches – the lowest percentage recorded since the mid-1970s.
Many other marine species, such as whales, dolphins, turtles, skates and rays, are hovering on the brink of extinction.

The situation is particularly dire in EU waters: 88 percent of fish stocks in Union waters are overfished, compared with 25 percent on average globally.

One of the main reasons for the global decline in fish stocks and the deterioration of the wider marine environment is fishing, but pollution, eutrophication and climate change are also taking their toll.

To protect our oceans and secure healthy fish stocks as well as a healthy marine environment, united efforts in all sectors that affect the seas are necessary.

  • Setting Fishing Limits

    Current fisheries management systems are predominately based on Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas, where a quantity of a species is allocated to a or an operator.
    This system is often complemented or replaced with an effort system, specifying the amount of activity at sea allowed, usually expressed as “days at sea” or “kilowatt days”. Read more »
  • Scientific Advice

    The first step in the decision-making procedure is to obtain recommendations from the scientific community. In this section you will also find all recommendations for the Baltic Sea from 2008 and on. Read more »
  • Stakeholder Involvement

    The implementation of the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy requires that the opinion of the stakeholders is taken into consideration, and that the formulation of analyses and of joint positions is encouraged. For that purpose the Commission has established the Advisory Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture (ACFA) and (as part of the CFP reform in 2002) the Regional Advisory Councils (RACs). Read more »
  • Fisheries Management

    The exploitation of most stocks needs to be regulated, the stocks managed. These are some of the key principles for fisheries management. Read more »
  • Management Failures

    Despite much more than two thirds of all assessed EU fish stocks deemed by scientists to be overexploited, the Fisheries Ministers have still set catch quotas in recent years on an average 46 percent higher than the scientists have recommended.
    In the end, this overfishing may result in stock collapses.
    One of the main drivers behind this is overcapacity: too many, too powerful, boats. Read more »
  • Destructive Fishing Practices

    Fishing activities also affect the wider marine environment, mainly by accidentally catching other species (bycatch), discards and disturbing the seabottom and its communities. Read more »
  • Subsidies

    Each year the fisheries sector receives huge amounts of money in the form of subsidies. Officially, subsidies to global fisheries are estimated at between USD 14 billion and USD 20 [...] Read more »
  • Policies and Legislation

    Attempts have been made through the years to regulate the use of the oceans in a single convention acceptable to all nations. This effort finally culminated with the adoption of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Read more »