Photo via ezioman via Flickr CC
The title of a new report from the New Economics Foundation says it all: Fish Dependence: The Increasing Reliance of the EU on Fish from Elsewhere. There are very few places left on the planet where fishing is sustainably done, but Europe is showing some real signs that their industry is going too far. Europeans are eating more fish from other parts of the world as their own stocks deplete, and the day of the year that marks "fish dependence day" is coming earlier every year, this year on July 9th. Will this be a wake up call to the EU's fishing industry?
The report calls out the EU's need for tighter fishing policies as well as reducing the consumption of fish in order to conserve the existing stocks and reduce dependence on imported fish.
EU fish stocks are in an unprecedentedly poor state yet fish consumption throughout Europe remains high. The EU has been able to maintain and expand its levels of consumption by sourcing fish from other countries, both through the catches of its distant- water fleet and imports.
Member states with little or no access to EU waters, such as Austria, Slovakia and Slovenia, obviously become fish dependent early in the year. Surprisingly, though, this is also the case for some countries with greater access to EU waters. These include Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany and France - all countries that source more than one-half of their fish from non-EU waters.
The report points out that fishing could be sustainable if managed correctly, and it calls out for policy makers to rethink how the fishing industry is regulated.
The Guardian writes, "The group is calling for reduced fishing capacity and stronger conservation controls. It also wants wider campaigns to promote responsible consumption of fish, as well as greater government investment in ways to enforce quotas and sustainable practices."
The report shows that EU catches have declined by 2% each year, with 52% of stocks fully exploited and 28% overexploited or depleted. Meanwhile, consumption of fish across the EU continues to increase, with each EU citizen consuming 25.6 kg of fish products a year -- 63% more than the global per capita average.
According to the NEF, if the current trend continues, some scientists have predicted that 100% of commercial stocks will be set for collapse by 2048.
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