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 long run, such overfishing may result in the stock’s collapse, the most dramatic example of which was one of the world’s biggest cod stocks failing off the coast of eastern Canada in 1992.
One of the main drivers behind this is overcapacity: too many too powerful boats. While the general capacity in those terms has decreased for the EU fleet in the past 15 years, the catching capacity has increased, due to technological advances.
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In order to stabilise the depletion of marine wildlife, the EU has signed up to international agreements to reduce overfishing by 2015. It is doubtful, however, that the Union will be able to live up these commitments, since scientific advice for quotas has not been adhered to and the issue of fleet overcapacity not being addressed. Read more.
The European Commission has identified overcapacity as a deep-rooted problem in need of reform. The exact level of overcapacity in the EU fleet is by and large unknown, but in some cases it is estimated at two to three times the level needed to sustainably catch the available resources.