Britain is ignoring scientific advice on protecting fish stocks and permitting more overfishing this year than any other European Union country, according to the New Economics Foundation (NEF) with cod, mackerel, blue whiting and pollock accounting for most of Britain’s “quota above scientific advice”.
The quota set for UK fishing fleets in 2015 exceeds the limits proposed by scientists by 69,000 tonnes, almost double the 35,000 tonnes of excess quota set for France, which the report ranks second for overfishing.
For too long, overfishing has cost Europe millions in lost landings, profits and jobs. Quotas and subsidies have been allocated to fleets regardless of their economic, social or environmental performance. The reformed Common Fisheries Policy, in force since 2014, is an opportunity for change. But change will not happen without action from member states.
Letting fish stocks grow to the point where they are most productive in perpetuity – their ‘maximum sustainable yield’ (MSY) – similar in intent to SSACN’s Give Fish A Chance (GFAC) programme, demands a reduction of fishing pressure for a set period of time. Reallocating quotas mean less fish for fleets that have traditionally received more access to the resource. While society would largely benefit, trade-offs must be made. European ministers must not shy away from making tough decisions that safeguard our fish stocks.
NEF’s full report may be downloaded in pdf form here.