Responsible Fishing

For centuries we have gone out to sea to fish. An often dangerous undertaking, but also a fruitful occupation and a source of pride for fishermen.

For our ancestors, life at sea was rich. The fish was plentiful and ready to be caught. Today we are all aware that this is no longer the case. The pressure on fish stocks is steadily increasing and sustainable fishing has become a matter of survival.

In the European Union, the link between the “ecological health” of fish stocks and the economic health of fishing communities is now well established. This is why our Community policy already places sustainability at the heart of fisheries.

What does it mean?

  • 1. rely on scientific investigation and set catch limits at responsible levels: today more stocks are fished at sustainable levels than ever.
  • 2. work with researchers and fishermen to gradually eliminate harmful practices such as discarding.
  • 3. to develop new technologies and environmentally friendly fishing practices that make the fishing industry more innovative and ultimately more competitive.

The European Union has agreed that all fish stocks should be exploited at sustainable levels by 2020. In practice this means taking the maximum possible amount of catches from the sea without compromising the long-term productivity of the stocks. This is known as the maximum sustainable yield (MSY).

The situation in the Northeast Atlantic

In the North East Atlantic and adjacent waters (North Sea, Baltic Sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat, West Scottish Sea, Irish Sea and Celtic Sea), EU fisheries ministers have set catch limits based on of scientific opinions. These total allowable catches (TACs) are then broken down into national quotas, which set limits on the amount of fish that can be caught.

Explore this European Community document and find out everything you need to know about fishing and where the fish you eat come from.