As part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has been given a prominent role to regulate and discipline global fisheries subsidies. The main goal is to eliminate IUU1 subsidies and prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing by 2020. In order to speed up the complex intergovernmental negotiations, a High Level Event on Trade, Climate Change and Oceans Economy took place in Geneva this week, where Europêche presented the huge progress made in Europe, to eliminate harmful subsidies and secure the sustainable and responsible management of fisheries resources.
President of Europêche, Javier Garat, has voiced the challenges faced by the European fishing sector due to the ambitious and rigid objectives set by the Common Fisheries Policy to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) levels by 2020, the implementation of the landing obligation and the uncertainty that Brexit is creating. The combination of all these factors, known in the sector as "the perfect storm", have been presented by Garat at the conference "How far has the EU come in ending overfishing?", held today in Brussels and organised by the environmental organization PEW.
The European Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) has recently published its annual report on the performance of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as regards the progress on the situation of the fish stocks and exploitation levels. Decades of self-sacrifice is returning our fisheries to greatness, since the report clearly shows that stocks status is significantly improving. It also reflects an overall downward trend in the fishing pressure. However, additional efforts are still needed, particularly in the Mediterranean.
A new paper led by Daniel Pauly has claimed that the global catch data, as reported by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), is incorrect and it should in fact be lower, citing overfishing as the cause.
It is disappointing that your response fails to address the issues that we have raised. We drew attention to the startling divergence between the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) view and Pew's claims about fishing pressure and the state of the stocks off North Western Europe.
Figures released by the WWF show that marine populations have remained almost unchanged for almost 30 years. Despite years of bad news stories about the impending ‘death’ of the world’s oceans, the figures produced by the Zoological Society of London on behalf of the WWF, clearly show that over the last 30 years there has been little overall change in the populations of 5,829 populations of 1,234 species across the world. The decline in marine populations trumpeted by the WWF actually occurred during the period from 1970 – 1988, since then the WWF’s own graph* shows that they have remained stable.