EC launches consultation on fishing less for better returns Published: 06 July, 2006
THE European Commission has just adopted a Communication on Implementing sustainability in EU fisheries through Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). Maximum sustainable yield is the highest yield that may be taken from a fish stock without lowering its productive potential for future years. At the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg in 2002, Member States of the EU committed themselves to maintaining or restoring fish stocks to levels that can produce at MSY no later than 2015. The Communication outlines the steps by which the Commission proposes implementing an MSY approach, the benefits this will bring once stocks have been restored to this level, and the options for managing the ‘transitional’ period for stocks which are currently overfished.
Applying the MSY approach under the Common Fisheries Policy will be a central element of the Unions strategy to restore the sustainability of our fisheries and the competitiveness of our fleets. It will also help us meet the commitment taken along with our international partners to achieve sustainability wherever our fleets are involved., Commissioner Joe Borg, responsible for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said.
Maximum sustainable yield is the highest quantity of fish that can be removed by fishing from a stock without weakening its productive potential. The best way to achieve this is to exploit stocks at a moderate fishing rate. If too much fishing takes place, the stock concerned will decrease and, as a result, catches too will subsequently decline. Most European fish stocks are now overfished about 81% of known resources. According to scientists, current rates of overfishing on these stocks vary on average from two to five times the level that would provide the highest catch. This overfishing has led to lower catches, lower incomes for fishermen, low profitability in many fisheries, and high catches of young fish – many of which are discarded (thrown back dead in the sea).
As well as preventing vulnerable stocks from collapsing, this approach will allow the development of larger fish stocks of all species, thus reducing costs and increasing profits for the fishing industry, as the amount of effort (and associated costs, such as fuel) required per tonne of fish caught decreases. The result will be more stable catches, providing more secure employment and a greater guarantee of wealth for the industry as a whole. The greater availability of mature fish in larger fish stocks will also reduce the level of discarding of immature fish.
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