Permission given for further exploitation of fish stocks –

Permission given for further exploitation of fish stocks Published:  21 December, 2011

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) says the latest decision by European Fisheries Ministers to set the amount of fish able to be caught at numbers exceeding scientifically recommended limits, is a disaster for the future of many fish stocks.

Following the two-day Council meeting in Brussels earlier this week where, MCS said, ministers had the chance to take a step towards the sustainable exploitation of European fisheries resources, they failed to make an environmental decision but made an economic one instead.  Ministers followed scientific advice for only 14 of the 75 decisions regarding stocks in EU waters.Generally fishing limits have been set higher than scientific advice indicated and in 53 stocks the difference was over 10%.“This is a clear case of the European Fisheries ministers once again deciding to ignore scientific advice in favour of short term economic gain,” said Deborah Crockard, MCS Fisheries Policy Officer. “MCS is appalled that fisheries which are currently overfished or indeed species classed as endangered are having their quota’s increased. Several fisheries on our red list of fish to avoid have had their quotas increased – against scientific advice, including those of plaice, sole and Atlantic halibut, an IUCN endangered species -the same status as pandas.”MCS says that basing decisions of Total Allowable Catch (TAC) on political pressure is already undermining a strong Common Fisheries Policy reform, due in 2013.“Along with organisations like ‘Seas at Risk’* we believe that fisheries minsters are failing to understand that by allowing overfishing now, jobs may be saved in the short-term, but in the long term our seas will be emptied of fish and parts of the industry will collapse anyway. These latest decisions are at worst short-sighted and at best undermining of the role of the European Commission.” MCS says it wants to see healthy, diverse, sustainable seas – a target that can be achieved if stocks are well managed in accordance to scientific advice and not managed by political pressure.