For the second year in a row, Fish Dependence: The Increasing Reliance of the EU on Fish From Elsewhere reveals the extent to which the EU and its member states are importing seafood because they have depleted their own waters. Fish stocks are a renewable resource, yet according to European Commission figures, EU fishing vessels are removing species more quickly than the stocks can replenish, leading boats to fish in waters of non-EU countries and the high seas.
“The EU has the largest and used to have some of the richest fishing grounds in the world, but we have failed to manage them responsibly. To satisfy Europeans' increasing appetite for fish, overfishing is now being exported to other parts of the world,” said Uta Bellion, director of the Pew Environment Group's European Marine Programme and OCEAN2012 coordinator. “Restoring the health of Europe's stocks to levels where they can be fished and consumed sustainably is the obvious way to stop this trend.”
Key findings from the report include:
• If the EU were to consume only fish from its waters, it would run out July 2, making it dependent on imports beginning July 3.
• Individual EU member states became dependent on fish imports as follows: Portugal, April 26; Germany, April 27; Italy, April 30; Spain, May 8; France, June 13; and U.K., July 16 (projected).
• The real impact of EU overfishing on its own stocks, and thereby on the availability of fish in the market and on menus across Europe, is masked by imports.
“This report emphasises that if people want sustainable seafood, they must pressure decision-makers to reform the EU's Common Fisheries Policy with an eye on ensuring the long-term viability of European fisheries,” Bellion said.
“Eating more fish than what EU waters can produce is gambling with the future of fish stocks and fisheries-dependent communities, putting at risk jobs and livelihoods in the EU and beyond,” said Aniol Esteban of the new economics foundation and co-author of the report.