In a letter to the Commission regarding their proposals for fishing opportunities in 2020, NGOs highlight that this is the last opportunity to meet the 2020 legal deadline to end overfishing.
The Commission has stated its ambitions to deliver on the CFP’s requirements regarding sustainable fisheries and progress has been made in the last decade to bring fishing mortality levels closer to scientifically advised levels. The Commission Communication on the state of play of the Common Fisheries Policy sets the framework for proposals to set fishing opportunities within EU fisheries.
According to the 2018 report from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), “many stocks remain overfished and/or outside safe biological limits, and […] progress achieved until 2016 seems too slow to ensure that all stocks will be rebuilt and managed according to FMSY by 2020.” The NGO analysis of the decisions demonstrates that, only one year before the 2020 deadline, more than 40% of TACs are still set higher than scientific advice.
It is therefore crucial that the Commission’s proposals for 2020 do not exceed scientific advice for any stock, in order to meet the CFP’s requirements. This will be particularly important as the Council adopts, for the first time, “effort quotas” under the Western Mediterranean demersal multi-annual plan. The Commission has a responsibility to send a strong signal that fisheries management in the Mediterranean – the most overfished sea – should now follow scientific advice.
Several international agreements require urgent progress toward fisheries sustainability, and the CFP built in a lengthy lead-in period to allow the EU to meet its 2020 deadline, after a reform in 2013 that was backed by unprecedented public support.