Eating somebody elses fish

Eating somebody elses fish

The European Union continues to consume more fish than European seas can produce, according to an updated report by the new economics foundation and OCEAN2012.

© Corey Arnold & OCEAN2012

The EU would run out of fish half way through the year if it were only to consume fish from its own waters. From July 7, Europeans start eating somebody else’s fish, as the EU becomes dependent on seafood from waters beyond its member’ jurisdiction. In effect, one out of every two fish a European consumes is sourced outside the EU.

Fish Dependence: The increasing reliance of the EU on fish from elsewhere reveals the extent to which EU citizens are importing fish by exporting overfishing. Although the EU became fish dependent slightly later this year than in 2011 - July 6 compared with July 2 last year - this is only a minor improvement in a critical situation. If managed responsibly, fish stocks are a renewable resource. Yet according to the European Commission, fish are being taken from EU waters more quickly than stocks can replenish, so fishermen have to travel farther and fish deeper in search of other fish, particularly in the waters of developing countries.

Fish Dependence dates around Europe

EU member states differ in their levels of self-sufficiency. For several individual EU member states, the date on which they became dependent on fish imports has already passed – March 30 for Portugal (nearly a month earlier than last year), April 20 for Germany, April 21 for Italy, May 21 for France and May 25 for Spain.

Sustainable seafood requires responsible fisheries management

“The EU has the largest exclusive economic zone and, in theory, some of the richest fishing grounds in the world, but decision-makers have failed to manage them responsibly, so to satisfy our appetite for fish, we are now exporting overfishing to other parts of the world”, said Uta Bellion, director of the Pew Environment Group’s European Marine Programme and OCEAN2012 co-ordinator. “Fishing within sustainable levels and adapting fish consumption to available resources is the only way to regain healthy fishing grounds”.

Europe’s citizens make their voice heard

Human fish shapes are being created around Europe to visualize the call to end overfishing. In addition, individuals can download and print a fish shape, take their photo and upload it to the Flickr group pool.

This year’s European Fish Weeks from June 8 – August 31, provide the opportunity for concerned European citizens to tell politicians to “end overfishing or fishing will be over” at over 50 events being held in 11 member states. 

OCEAN2012 is working for an EU Common Fisheries Policy that:

  1. enshrines environmental sustainability as the over-arching principle, without which economic and social sustainability is unobtainable;
  2. ensures decisions are taken at the most appropriate levels and in a transparent way, ensuring effective participation of stakeholders;
  3. delivers sustainable fishing capacity at EU and regional level;
  4. makes access to fisheries resources conditional on environmental and social criteria; and;
  5. ensures public funds are only used in a way that serves the public good and alleviates social impacts in the transition to sustainable fisheries.