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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 30 May 2013

Fishing opportunities for 2014: further phase out of overfishing

The latest figures on the fish stocks in EU waters indicate that the European Commission's efforts to phase out overfishing have paid off. In a consultation document adopted today the European Commission reports on the state of European fish stocks and sets out its intentions for proposing fishing opportunities for 2014. 39% of assessed fish stocks in EU waters of the Northeast Atlantic are now overfished, down from 47% last year and 95% in 2005. The policy is starting to show real benefits for the fishing industry as well with the latest data on profits indicating an increase of 40% on the previous year. Nevertheless, progress still needs to be made.

Maria Damanaki, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: “These figures show that responsible fisheries management measures can and do work. Still, we need to strengthen our efforts to end overfishing by the target date we have agreed. We need to complete the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in order to achieve that.”

Through this annual document the Commission asks for the views of Member States and stakeholders on the setting of Total Allowable Catches (TACs), quotas and fishing effort (days-at-sea) for the following year. The document shows that the Commission's efforts to phase out overfishing are starting to bear fruit. There are now 25 fish stocks in European seas which are known not to be overfished, compared to only 2 stocks in 2005.

The science base for assessing fish stocks is improving. New methods brought in by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) have meant that advice is available for an extra 30 stocks compared to last year.

There was an approximately 40% increase in average net profits made by the EU fishing fleet since 2011, showing that improvements in income for fishermen are following on from reductions in overfishing, even though fuel costs put an extra burden on the fleet.

For next year, the Commission wants the industry to stick to scientific advice. For stocks covered by the long-term management plans, TACs and effort levels should be fixed according to the plans in force (a legal requirement). For other fish stocks, not covered by the plans, the TACs should be based on scientific advice, with a goal to phase out overfishing by 2015. Where no advice exists, the precautionary principle should be applied.


The stocks in EU waters in the northeast Atlantic that were assessed as not overfished in 2012 are:



Blue whiting

Northeast Atlantic


Celtic Sea and English Channel

Eastern Baltic Sea

Common sole

Skagerrak, Kattegat and Baltic Sea

Western English channel

Southwest Ireland

Celtic Sea


North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat


West of Scotland


North Sea

West of Scotland

Irish Sea

Celtic Sea

Western Baltic Sea

Bothnian Bay and Bothnian Sea


North Sea and west of Scotland

Norway Lobster

Skagerrak and Kattegat

North Sea

West of Scotland


North Sea


North Sea and west of Scotland


Baltic Sea


All areas


Celtic Sea

For the fish stocks where scientific assessment can be carried out, the state of stocks has improved over the last years. In the northeast Atlantic and nearby seas, overfished stocks fell from 32 out of 34 stocks in 2005 to 16 out of 41 stocks in 2012, i.e. from 94% to 39%. In the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, sufficient data exists for 85 of stocks. Out of these, 75 (88%) are overfished.

Further details in full consultation document:

Contacts :

Oliver Drewes (+32 2 299 24 21)

Lone Mikkelsen (+32 2 296 05 67)

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