The Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) has warned the European Commission that the levels of fish resources in EU waters are dangerously low.
STECF told the EC that the contribution of European fisheries to the economy and food supply is much smaller than it was a few decades ago and that only 40pc of the assessed stock are being fished sustainably.
For some 72pc of assessed stocks, overfishing is so serious that more fish would be caught if there was less fishing, STEFC told the Commission, although the committee noted "clear improvements" since last year clear in some important stocks, such as hake and sole.
Taking onboard the STEFC advice, the Commission has set out total levels of total allowable catch (TAC) and fishing effort for the Atlantic, North Sea and international waters regulated by a Regional Fisheries Management in a measure to deal with this.
"We must not lose sight of the basic facts. The amount of fish in the sea is limited and the amount of fish that can be caught each year without putting the future of the stocks at risk is limited, too. Each year we ask scientists to tell us what those limits are. The Commission is basing its proposal on that advice,” said Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki.
The Commissioner continued: “I am keen to see the EU meet the World Summit on Sustainable Development target of exploiting fish stocks according to their maximum sustainable yields by 2015.”
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