Overfishing is a serious concern in the waters of northwestern Europe. Although this issue is not unique to the region—experts estimate that $83 billion is lost worldwide annually to overfishing and could be recovered through stock restoration—it persisted for years in large part because of the European Union’s reluctance to set fishing limits in line with scientific advice.
In recent years, European ministers have brought fishing limits closer to the scientific advice on average, but they must still do more: Under the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), Member States were legally bound to end overfishing by 2020 to maintain sustainable fisheries.
Progress toward that goal has varied but generally proved too slow to meet the 2020 deadline. Pew’s work focused on bringing EU fisheries management in line with scientific advice to end overfishing and allow stocks to recover. By doing so, the EU can set a positive example for other governments and help ensure the future sustainability of fisheries in northwestern Europe and beyond.
To support effective implementation of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, we worked with decision-makers in the EU and the United Kingdom to advocate for:
- Fishing limits to be set at sustainable levels that allow stocks to recover.
- Long-term legislation that would achieve the objectives of the CFP in each region.
- Implementation of the CFP’s bycatch reforms, including the EU’s Landing Obligation.
- Clear and public reporting on progress toward these aims.
- A post-Brexit joint EU-UK management framework to allow the recovery of fish populations to sustainable levels.