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Europe Misses by More Than 30 Years the International Goal of Rebuilding Its Fish Stocks

At the Development Summit in Johannesburg in 2002, the European countries agreed to rebuild their fish stocks to levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield, no later than 2015. According to scientists of the Excellence Cluster “Future Ocean”, that goal is already out of reach: Of 54 analysed stocks, only saithe, western horse mackerel and Baltic sprat have a sufficiently large stock size and are fished at a sustainable rate. The state of twelve stocks, including North Sea cod, plaice and halibut, is so bad that they can not recover sufficiently until 2015, even if all fishing was halted. Other stocks could reach the target if fishing pressure was reduced substantially, but that has not happened so far.

These results were published by Dr. Rainer Froese, Leibniz-Institute of Marine Sciences (IFM-GEOMAR) and Prof. Dr. Alexander Proelß, Walter-Schücking-Institute of International Law, in the journal „Fish and Fisheries“. The German scientists, both members of the interdisciplinary Excellence Cluster „Future Ocean“, point out that the continuous overfishing of European stocks constitutes a breach of the precautionary principle, which is a binding principle of Community law.

The article published in the scientific journal 'Fish and Fisheries' is available here

The prestigious journal Nature dedicated a detailed news item to the publication on 22 January 2010.

The press release of the Excellence Cluster "Future Ocean" and the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences (IfM-GEOMAR) is available here. 

Dr. Rainer Froese is a member of the Mundus maris Initiative. He is also the coordinator of - the web-based encyclopedia on all fishes of the world. If you want to learn more about the named fishes, follow the links above to their respective species summary pages and much more.