Friday 30th September 2016                 Change text size:

Marine assessment finds ‘major’ overfishing threat in Europe



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An assessment from the IUCN warns that European marine fish species are threatened with extinction due to overfishing. While some species are recovering, the threat in European waters is described as “major”.

In total, 7.5% of all European marine fish species are threatened and the figure is much higher for some species. For example, over 40% of European sharks, rays and chimaeras face an elevated risk of extinction.

The European Environment Agency recently published the State of Nature report, with findings suggesting that none of the protected areas in the Atlantic, Baltic and Mediterranean waters are in good condition. The IUCN assessment further emphasis the harm being done in European waters.

The findings come from the European Red List of Threatened Species report, financed by the European Commission. It is the first complete assessment of marine fishes native to Europe. It assesses all of the 1,220 species found in the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Baltic Sea, North Sea and Northeast Atlantic Ocean.

“These findings are crucial for informing policy on nature and maritime affairs, and effectively implementing EU legislation, such as the Habitats Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework and the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive, to improve the status of threatened marine species,” explained Karmenu Vella, European commissioner for environment, fisheries and maritime policy.

The report highlights achievements, with marine management measures for the Atlantic Cod and Atlantic Bluefin Tuna resulting in stocks improving. However for other species, such as the Atlantic Halibut, Atlantic Salmon and Tubot, measures have been less effective.

Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, commented, “While we have seen some progress, it is alarming how many commercially and ecological important species continue to be at risk in Europe.

“We need to take urgent action to reduce target and incidental catches of threatened species, and to set and enforce fishing quotes based on scientific understanding of population declines and multi-annual management plans for all commercial species of marine fishes.”

Photo: Tony Gilbert

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Further reading:

Helena Bonham Carter joins calls for vast UK marine reserves

Conservatives and Labour vie to create vast marine protection areas

Marine habitats in European seas found in bad shape

UKOTs: Our marine reserves need protection

Threatened shark species protected by new fishing ban


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