Pew Finds Member States' Overcapacity Reporting Insufficient

Pew Finds Member States' Overcapacity Reporting Insufficient

According to research published today by the Pew Environment Group and the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), EU Member States are not fully complying with their legal obligation to assess annually their effort to reach a sustainable balance between the capacity to catch fish and the fish available.

In January 2009, the European Commission published the Member State reports for 2007 and the Commission's summary. The IEEP's evaluation is mainly based on this information.  EU Commissioner Joe Borg has singled-out overcapacity as a major source of the CFP's failure.

“If overcapacity is one of the key issues, then we need to know how much and where it is,” said Markus Knigge, research director of the Pew Environment Group's EU Marine Programme. “What this research shows is that, despite the legal obligation, not all Member States have been adequately reporting their fleet overcapacity. Repeated requests to comply have had little effect, making any EU-wide assessment impossible.”

Pew calls on the European Commission and Member States to protect the EU fishing fleet by:

  • Evaluating the relationship between fishing capacity and fishing opportunities on a fishery-by-fishery basis;
  • Creating a combination of financial, legal and other instruments that allow a restructuring of the EU fleet based on criteria and guidelines prioritising environmentally, socially and economically sound fishing;
  • Setting up capacity management objectives, including quantitative and qualitative criteria, and implementation plans with specific timetables;
  • Ending subsidies schemes that support overfishing, and shifting funds to support the transition towards a more sustainable fleet that is in balance with the available resources; and
  • Acknowledging that once the fleet has reached a sustainable size, there is a regular need to mitigate the effects of increased capacity due to technological improvements.

“Overcapacity is contributing to the massive depletion of valuable fish stocks, yet nobody knows how much and where it is occurring,” said Knigge. “It is time to tackle and assess it as a first step to stopping EU overfishing.”

Download the full report here.

Note to the Editor:

  • The most recent assessment of the EU fleet, the 1995 Lassen Report, was that the fleet experienced a 40 percent over-capacity;
  • The Annual report (PDF) from the European Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on Member States' efforts during 2007 to achieve a sustainable balance between fishing capacity and fishing opportunities
  • The European Commission has published a call for tender to assess over-capacity in European fleets. The study should use the Commission Guidelines and apply them to 50 fleets.