In a bid to try and end overfishing in Europe, last week, the EU announced plans to reduce the total allowable catches in the North Sea and North-east Atlantic. This would apply to species at risk of collapse, including cod and are due to start next year.
But, it’s feared that the move won’t be enough to stop overfishing. For example, one EU executive pointed out that quotas for 32 out of 72 types of fish would stay at the same level, or even see an increase compared with last year.
The quota for cod, however, will see a significant reduction. In 2020, the total allowable catches will be reduced by 88% in Western Ireland, the Celtic Sea and the Eastern Channel. It will also be reduced by 68% in the Irish Sea.
Cod fishing is already banned in the Eastern Baltic. This immediate ban was implemented in response to a predicted stock collapsed, after scientists announced there could be a “rapid decline in cod if no action is taken”.
In addition to this, the Commission has made other proposals to help protect cod and marling in the Celtic Sea. This would include temporarily closing some fisheries, and introducing checks to try and prevent fish being discarded at sea.
But, as noted by environmental groups, it’s unlikely that quotas will result in an end to overfishing. Practically, it’s predicted that only 59 stock will see the maximum sustainable yield next year – this determines how much fish can be caught without threatening the population.
ClientEarth, an environmental protection association, said in a statement: “In the past, fisheries ministers have failed to stop over-exploitation of the oceans and restore fish stocks to healthy and sustainable levels. France, Spain and Ireland have even called for ever higher quotas every year. The time has come for them to keep their commitments.”
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