A conference on the state of fish stocks and how far the EU has come to end overfishing has been told that progress is being made.
The event, 'Countdown to 2020: How far has the EU come in ending over fishing?' was held in Brussels at the end of February. It was organised by the Pew Charitable Trusts and brought together decision makers and stakeholders from across Europe.
One of the speakers, who closed the event, was EU Commissioner, Karmenu Vella. He told delegates: "The European Commission is your ally and ending overfishing is the main priority of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy – and it remains fully committed to this goal.
He added: "I think it is also worth pointing out the significant progress we have already made. In the Atlantic, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, the rate of overexploitation has drastically declined, thanks to the more responsible catch limits we have set.
"In 2009, we were fishing a mere five stocks at MSY (Maximum Sustainable Yield) – that is at sustainable levels. Today, less than a decade later, we're at 53 out of 76 and the number is growing every year."
Jan Kappel, EFTTA's Public Affairs Officer added: "The Commission highlighted the progress made by overfishing and there is no doubt good progress has been made.
"However, new challenges are just around the corner like the discard ban, which will take effect at the beginning of January next year. ICES, the scientific advisor to the Commission, has made it clear that MSY cannot be achieved for all species so it has to be decided politically which fish will be given priority.
"Also, the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea are heavily overfished and will be one of the priorities for the EU to try and turn that around."