Pew in Europe

The European Union, or EU, contributes to the widespread overexploitation of the world’s oceans. In fact, EU fish stocks are in a worse state than the global average. More than 39 percent of the assessed stocks in the Atlantic Ocean are overfished, as are over 95 percent of assessed stocks in the Mediterranean Sea. In the Baltic Sea, five out of seven fish stocks are overfished.

The EU has one of the largest fleets in the world, as well as the largest exclusive economic zone. As the world’s biggest importer of seafood, the EU has significant political influence in international forums. By encouraging the adoption of science-based and precautionary management measures, it can also play a critical role in intergovernmental and global meetings. Still, its fisheries management policies are at times poorly developed or not fully implemented.

Globally, tuna stocks remain overexploited, and many shark species are assessed as threatened with extinction. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated, or IUU, fishing is undermining fisheries management measures. And despite international commitments, less than 1 percent of the world’s oceans have been fully protected.

However, the situation in the EU is improving and can improve globally. Stricter control and enforcement legislation is being implemented, and more stringent rules to prevent, deter, and eliminate illegal fishing have been introduced. In 2013, the EU set targets to end overfishing by 2015, where possible, and by 2020 at the latest, and to restore fish stocks to sustainable levels. Pew has been working actively on these issues in Europe since 2004 by providing evidence-based research, educating the public about marine conservation issues, and promoting sound conservation policy.

To learn more about Pew’s work in Europe, please visit


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