Improving the state of the ocean and ensuring a future for Europe’s fisheries

Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries charts his priorities to improve the state of the ocean and ensuring a future for Europe’s fisheries

When I was entrusted with the portfolio of fisheries and maritime affairs, improving the state of the ocean and ensuring a future for Europe’s fisheries became two of my top priorities. An ambitious endeavour with many obstacles to overcome where overfishing and plastic pollution are probably two of the most pressing issues.

The challenges are indeed significant, but so are the rewards. We all started down this path determined to ensure the environmental, economic and social sustainability of EU fisheries over the long-term. And I am happy to say we have made real progress.

In many parts of the EU, fish stocks are arguably in the best shape they have been in decades. Over the last 10 years, the number of stocks that reached sustainable levels has increased from five to 53 (out of 76).

In 2018, 97% of the volume of stocks managed by the EU alone and subject to full scientific assessment, have been fished sustainably. Concretely, this means fishermen only take out of the sea the maximum amount of fish that would not hinder the regeneration of the stock.

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