Overcapacity - What Overcapacity?

An evaluation of Member States reporting on efforts to achieve a sustainable balance between capacity and fishing opportunities in 2007.

In European Union (EU) waters, it is estimated that on average 88 percent of assessed fish stocks are overfished, compared with 25 percent globally. This is due to a number of different factors, one of which is the over-capacity of the European fleet. The most recent estimate is that there is more than 40 percent over-capacity in the fleet. However, this estimation is based on a report from 1995 and it is suspected that this is no longer valid.

Fleet management is an area of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) that changed substantially during its last 2002 reform in response to the need to achieve a balance between fishing capacity and available resources, and the recommendations of the widely cited ‘Lassen report' on EU fleet capacity. Since 2002, the task of drawing up capacity management plans was given back to Member States. Furthermore, Member States are obliged to report annually to the European Commission on their efforts to achieve a sustainable balance between fishing capacity and fishing opportunities. On the basis of this information, the European Commission produces a summary report for the European Parliament and the Council that serves two functions. First, it reports on the extent to which Member States have complied with their obligation to forward data in relation to matching fishing capacity to fishing opportunities. Second, it allows the Commission to comment, based on the national assessments of over-capacity, on the overall capacity of the EU fleet on an annual basis. Such an assessment is essential for any further attempts to address over-capacity. To date, there have been five annual reports produced by the Commission covering the period 2003–2008.

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