New Economics Foundation analyses fishing quota decisions

Published on December 4, 2015

A new nef report finds an average of 7 out of every 10 TACs were set exceeding scientific advice over the last fifteen years.

Recently published in the journal of Marine Policy, the New Economics Foundation (nef) has published a report titled Landing the blame, analysing the influence of Member States on fisheries quota decisions. The Fisheries Council determines fishing quotas in closed-door meetings, with outcomes often exceeding scientific advice and frequently out of line with legislated principles in the Common Fisheries Policy.

The analysis shows an average of 7 out of every 10 Total Allowable Catch (TAC) quotas were set exceeding scientific advice. As a percentage of the total biomass represented by these TACs, nef found that the TACs exceeded scientific advice on average by 20%. Per Member State, Denmark and the UK obtained the most excess TAC when measured in raw tonnes. As a percentage of their own TAC however, Spain and Portugal obtained the most excess TAC. The Council’s recent decisions on Baltic TACs for 2016 are no exception to this pattern of poor adherence to scientific advice and the Common Fisheries Policy. In the interests of transparency, nef published a white paper with the complete data behind their analysis, showing how they derived their figures.

As noted in the nef report, while it is likely that the Member States with the greatest excess quota have lobbied specifically for this opportunity to overfish, “the only way to verify these outcomes is with greater transparency in the process.”

We continue to work for the integration of scientific advice, recently collaborating with Seas at Risk in a detailed letter to Fisheries Ministers across Europe encouraging them to follow the principles of the Common Fisheries Policy for 2016 quotas in the North Atlantic and North Sea. The Fisheries Council will determine these quotas at their upcoming meeting on 14-15 December.