Sustainable fisheries: Commission takes stock of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy and launches consultation on the fishing opportunities for 2021

The Commission has published its yearly Communication on the progress of management of fish stocks in the EU, which is based on data from 2018. This year’s edition, “Towards more sustainable fishing in the EU: state of play and orientations for 2021”, reaffirms the Commission’s strong commitment to promoting fisheries that are environmentally sustainable and economically viable, and shows the EU’s progress in achieving that goal. Member States, Advisory Councils, the fishing industry, non-governmental organisations, and interested citizens are invited to take part in a public consultation and express their views on the fishing opportunities for 2021.The Commission will be reaching out and actively listening to them over the next weeks.

Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, responsible for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: “The first months of this year have been extremely challenging for the fisheries sector, but we have supported them across the EU. Sustainable fisheries, delivered through the Common Fisheries Policy, are necessary for increasing resilience and delivering the European Green Deal, in particular the recent Farm-to-Fork and EU Biodiversity Strategies. Fisheries management in the EU has brought us good news –we now have 50% more fish in the North East Atlantic seas than in 2003. Figures also show that the large fleet segments have become very profitable over the last years and bring increases in salaries. Challenges, however, remain, for example, we need to intensify our efforts to eliminate discards. I am counting on everyone to make an effort – Members States, industry and stakeholders. We must deliver what we have set out to achieve.”

The 2020 Communication shows that fishing in the Northeast Atlantic has steadily become more sustainable resulting in a more abundant stock. The economic performance of the EU fleet continued to be very good, with a net profit of around €1.4 billion and an average net profit margin of 18% in 2018. Fishers’ salaries also continued to increase.

Despite significant improvements, challenges remain. While similar economic performance is expected to be confirmed for 2019, the projections for 2020 remain highly uncertain due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis. For the Mediterranean and Black Seas, vigorous conservation efforts must continue, and in the Atlantic sea basins, some stocks continue to be overfished or remain outside safe biological limits. In the second year of its full application, the implementation of the landing obligation remains a concern. Member States need to step up the enforcement and control of compliance with the landing obligation, in particular by using control tools, such as remote electronic monitoring systems. The Commission will continue to work with the European Parliament and Council to reach an agreement on the revised fisheries control system, which will facilitate the use of these tools.

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