As new research revealed that Atlantic fish stocks, including the North Sea and Baltic, are showing strong signs of recovery, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs, Karmenu Vella, has paid tribute to fishermen’s sacrifices and role in rebuilding depleted stocks of some of Europe’s most important commercial species.
The National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, which along with other fisheries stakeholders participated in the annual State of the Stocks review in Brussels, said, “The recovery trajectory for some species - plaice and hake for example - is nothing less than remarkable. Right across the board, with very few exceptions, we are seeing strong signals from the stocks and this is now reflected in the scientific stock assessments.
“We could point to 20 or 30 separate measures which have contributed to this positive trend, which began around the year 2000, including more selective fishing and smaller fleet sizes; but of course natural fluctuations also play an important part in what we are now seeing.”
According to the new statistics released in July by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), there has been a ‘dramatic reduction in fishing pressure’ across the main commercial stocks, with the majority observing that fishing mortality has decreased to a level consistent with Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). This means levels are not only sustainable but will also deliver high long term yields.
Encompassing around 150 stocks, the new data shows a dramatic reduction in the exploitation level of many species, as a result of the strict management objectives now in place for sustainable fisheries across the North Atlantic. Between 2006 and 2015, the number of stocks fished at MSY increased from 2 to 36.