Beginning Tomorrow, Europeans Will Be Eating Somebody Else's Fish

Beginning Tomorrow, Europeans Will Be Eating Somebody Else's Fish

Brussels - A report by OCEAN2012 and the new economics foundation reveals that starting July 3, the EU will be dependent on seafood from elsewhere, six days earlier than last year.

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. 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.Uta Bellion, director of the Pew Environment Group’s European Marine Programme and OCEAN2012 coordinator

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.

Notes to editors

  1. Fish Dependence: The Increasing Reliance of the EU on Fish From Elsewhere by nef.
  2. Related briefing from OCEAN2012 and nef available in Português / Deutsch / Italiano / Español / Français (PDFs)
  3. The calculation of EU fish dependence is based on official EU data on the latest levels of import and consumption.
  4. OCEAN2012 is an alliance of organisations dedicated to transforming European Fisheries Policy to stop overfishing, end destructive fishing practices and deliver fair and equitable use of healthy fish stocks.
  5. OCEAN2012 was initiated and is coordinated by the Pew Environment Group, the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a nongovernmental organisation working to end overfishing in the world’s oceans.
  6. The founding members of OCEAN2012 are the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements (CFFA), the Fisheries Secretariat (FISH), the new economics foundation (nef), the Pew Environment Group and Seas at Risk (SAR).
  7. The new economics foundation is an independent think-and-do tank that inspires and demonstrates real economic well-being. It aims to improve quality of life by promoting innovative solutions that challenge mainstream thinking on economic, environment and social issues. It works in partnership and puts people and the planet first.