Call to freeze fishing in Europe to replenish stocks

Crew members of the fishing trawler Diego David sort the catch of sardines and anchovies off the coast of Vigo (file image from December 2005) The European Union has been agonising over fishing policy for years

Related Stories

A think tank has made a controversial case for freezing fishing in Europe, saying most fish stocks would return to sustainable levels within five years.

The London-based New Economics Foundation (Nef) argues in its report that the suspension would generate billions of pounds in profits by 2023.

Private investment would compensate fishermen and maintain boats.

A senior UK fishing industry representative said stocks were already improving and the idea made no sense.

Unsustainable fishing remains a major issue for the EU, where 75% of stocks are still overfished and catches are only a fraction of what they were 15-20 years ago.

The European Parliament approved measures this week against third countries which allowed the practice.

However, Maritime and Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki recently reported progress in the fight to reduce overfishing.

No catch?

In its report, No Catch Investment, Nef said it had calculated the costs of restoring fish stocks and found they were far outweighed by the economic benefits in the short and long term.

Estimated restocking times

Fish and chips
  • Mackerel: matter of months
  • Icelandic cod: under five years
  • Skagerrak cod: nine years

source: Nef

It looked at 51 out of 150 commercial fish stocks, including hake, mackerel, whiting and Icelandic cod.

Most, it said, could be restored to sustainable levels within five years, with some varieties such as certain mackerel and herring needing less than a year.

However, some stocks of cod and halibut would take at least nine years to replenish, the Nef report found.

The think tank calculated that private investment of £9.16bn (11.4bn euros; $14.7bn) to manage the fishing freeze would generate profit of £4.43bn by 2023. "By 2052, the returns are £14 for every £1 invested," it said.

The investment would ensure "zero unemployment" among fishermen and would guard against depreciation of their vessels, the Nef argued.

'No sense'

In a recent report, Commissioner Damanaki found that overfishing in the North-East Atlantic, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea had been reduced from 72% in 2010 to 47% in 2012.

Start Quote

Claims that we are progressing towards sustainable fishing are the equivalent of saying that instead of driving a car over a cliff at 100mph we are driving it at 90mph”

End Quote Aniol Esteban Co-author of Nef report

The number of stocks being fished sustainably had risen from 13 to 19, she said.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday, Barry Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations (NFFO), argued there was no need for the freeze proposed by the Nef.

"I don't think it makes sense at any level: biological, economic or political," he said.

"On the whole, we are already moving towards maximum sustainable yields so why would it make sense to spend these huge amounts of money?"

A freeze on fishing would result in a degeneration of infrastructure and a loss of markets, he said. When the herring industry in the North Sea was closed in the 1970s, he pointed out, "a whole generation lost the art of cooking and eating herring".

Aniol Esteban, who co-authored the Nef report, told the BBC News website that to say Europe was progressing towards sustainable fishing was akin to saying "that instead of driving a car over a cliff at 100mph we are driving it at 90mph".

"Overfishing is not being tackled for the majority of affected stocks, or at a fast enough pace," he added, stressing that the Nef idea would actually boost the fishing industry in the long term.

Asked by the BBC if imports of fish from outside Europe would not have to rise unsustainably as a result of the freeze, he said the alternative to increasing imports was to reduce fish consumption by a fifth until stocks were rebuilt.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    So the fishing industry is on the verge of collapse and extinction of fish species, but people are still arguing about fishermens jobs, lost income, lost tax, freedom to eat fish if they want etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    199. digbic78
    South Wales was fine before the dimwit capitalists pulled the plug on the mining industry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    @197.Name Number 6

    I know! If only we weren't taxed on our incomes by the Govt, think of all that investment that could flow freely into the economy without fear of theft from HMRC. Billionaires want to make money, invest in companies& businesses which employ us, produce products & innovate to out compete each other - industrial revolution. If only we were truly free!

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    The sea is like the land,you cant keep taking from it without putting something back.
    Restocking by natural means will only work if strick controls are in place and it will take years to replenish itself

    Is it not beyond our abilities as humans to restock artificially.

    Areas around wind farms should also be fish farms and no fishing areas with the supports made as artificial reefs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    re195 expat andy

    far to many opinionated dimwits on here to who think all forms of capitalism are evil! it's so sad.All u have to do is look around s/wales to see the glory of the nanny socialist state in full action.end result?high unemployment,poverty and no sense of pride in the people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    So The EU fishing policy is a disaster, just like many people said it was for years

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    195. Expat Andy
    And thing of the $32 trillion these capitalists have hidden away in off shore accounts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    Oh great, more Norwegian fish pirates in the southern oceans. Thanks a lot, Europe!

    Pushing overfishing somewhere else won't solve the global problem, so if this is to be implemented, the only viable way will be to reduce fish availability in Europe.

    This is not politically acceptable and will remain that way until fish stocks crash everywhere - not just the North Sea.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.


    Thank you, some common sense on the BBC can be so rare. Think of the people the factory owner, or any businessman & businmesswoman gainfully employed too! And the investors who got returns on their investments and could invest again and in more enterprises now, to employ more people & produce more products for us all :D

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    "[T]he suspension would generate billions of pounds in profits by 2023."

    Maybe the pursuit of profit is what caused the problem in the first place.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    The fishing industry always opposed legislation aimed at protecting the environment. It is time we start treating the fisheries as ours, not the industry's. If fish stocks do collapse, the industry should get absolutely no bail-out money. Not a penny. Let them go bankrupt. They have been warned over and over again by scientists about overfishing but have always gone for the quick profit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    It seems to me likely that if we do not stop voluntarily, mother nature will ultimately do it for us. Better to control the situation that have it control us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    re179 blahablah

    that technological advance was the keroses lamp!a lamp that that didn't burn whale oil; which was used a fair bit up until that point.
    I wonder how the inventor got this item made?
    do u think he got money off investors to set up a factory as they saw the chance to make some money?
    capitalism is so evil!

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    "Erm, yes gov I was only fishing for trout but I caught a tonne of cod instead; it's for...erm...scientific research!"

    Yes we have trouble getting Japan to stop whaling, yet they continue hunting them for "scientific research" only to have the whale meat end up in restaurants somehow. I dont see out local fisherman obeying these laws either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    188.Mark - "Solution - forget quotas, let the French and Spanish catch all the fish they want, in a few months they will have caught every single fish. Natural selection says that the the predators will become extinct without any prey....."

    Erm, the predators in this instance are us, human beings.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    Solution - forget quotas, let the French and Spanish catch all the fish they want, in a few months they will have caught every single fish. Natural selection says that the the predators will become extinct without any prey. After a few years the seas can be repopulated from fish farms. Simples!

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    Reading some of the ignorant anti-EU comments makes me understand why there shouldn't be an HYS on "the film" - it will just produce tons of more ignorant parotted drivel from people who have nothing positive to contribute to anything. The total refusal to even minimally understand the EU disqualifies these posters from a valid opinion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    180. Expat Andy

    @175.Name Number 6
    Your are always shocked & never contribute?
    Nope, I give up, what song is that the opening line to?

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    The loss of the skill base and ancillary jobs would be huge, usually when this type of idea is floated the money behind funding the research has found away to make a profit

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    Inherited wealth is receiving private property from someone else (usually a relative), & property rights should be protected. Parents already workd for & paid tax on the family home, now the home gets taxd again?
    A 'level-playing-field' sounds like socialism but, if there were no ‘benefits’ to special groups & all individuals had equal rights, this would be free, 'fair' & libertarian.


Page 4 of 14


More Europe stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.