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Europe reassesses its dominion over all the fish of the sea

fishing reform.jpgEurope’s fisheries lurched towards reform today as the European Commission unveiled its long-awaited proposals to shake up the industry. But the announcement failed to satisfy already vocal critics.

Maria Damanaki, the commissioner for maritime affairs, warned that if fisheries were not reformed to put them on a sustainable basis “we will loose one fish stock after the other”.

At heart the new proposals are attempting to heed the warnings of scientists, who for years have been saying that Europe is hideously over-exploiting many species. When drafts of the proposals began circulating earlier this year though many commentators warned they did not go far enough. (See Nature’s news story ‘Too few fish in the sea’ and the World View piece ‘Fishery reform slips through the net’ for details of the reforms and the critiques.)

Damanaki wants fishermen to stop throwing away non-target species they haul up (so-called by-catch). Quotas will also be set to manage each stock at ‘maximum sustainable yield’ by 2015 and aquaculture will be encouraged.

Critics have repeated concerns voiced over early drafts though, especially around the fact that there will be no actual obligation on European Union member states to heed scientific advice on catch limits.

Monica Verbeek, executive director of the Seas At Risk group, said “More ambitious management targets for stocks will only halt overfishing if ministers are obliged to set fishing quotas based on the best available scientific advice. We can no longer afford to put fish stocks at risk with the annual horse trading of quotas.”

Image: photo by Chris Brown via flickr under creative commons.


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