EUROPECHE, the body representing 80,000 European fishermen, said claims about overfishing, contained in a report released yesterday, are misleading.
The Pew Charitable Trusts said, in ‘Turning the Tide’, that swift and effective implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is essential to restoring fish stocks and the viability of communities that depend on fishing.
But Javier Garat, president of Europêche, said he challenged the report’s assertion that the changes to end overfishing adopted at the last reform of the CFP are being threatened by high quota allocations and short termism.
‘I have to make clear that Pew’s report is hugely misleading,’ said Garat.
‘Firstly, the number of stocks within safe biological limits has almost doubled in the last decade, a fact which Pew fails to acknowledge.
‘In the north-east Atlantic, many fisheries are already on the way to being put on a sustainable footing and great progress has been made by the industry itself to ensure stocks are healthy and abundant.
‘The definition of overfishing has evolved so much over the years. Where once it meant stocks below a safe minimum, it now means stocks not yet at maximum in terms of sustainable yield.
‘What would once be considered healthy is now considered overfished. Yet, even by this new definition, a decline in the number of ‘overfished’ stocks could be seen well before Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) targets were in put in place during the CFP reform.
‘In the north-east Atlantic, an area that has seen a substantial reduction in its exploitation rate and an improvement in stock status, there are now 36 stocks being fished at MSY, compared to 27 last year and just two in 2003.
‘It should also be pointed out, as is fleetingly referred to in the report, that under the CFP reform, scientific TAC advice is set within the policy framework to deliver MSY by 2015 and 2020 at the latest.