Agriculture  |  Publications  |  17.06.2011

Fish dependence: The increasing reliance of the EU on fish from elsewhere

This report by the New Economics Foundation highlights the extent of the overconsumption of fish in the EU and the extent to which the EU relies on imports from other countries.  It proposes a number of reforms to the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy.

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.  This reliance on fish products originating from external waters varies from country to country.

In a context of finite resources and growing populations, the current EU model is unsustainable. The EU’s increasing ‘fish dependence’ has implications for the sustainability of fish stocks in other countries, which are also overfished, and for the communities that depend on them.

The main message of this report is that rising fish consumption in a context of declining stocks is a model that is environmentally unviable and socially unfair. The EU has highly productive waters that have the potential to sustain a long-term and stable supply of fish, jobs and related social and economic benefits, but only if its fish resources are managed responsibly.

The reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) offers a unique opportunity to put the structures in place to turn this situation around. To transform the management of the EU’s marine resources, the new CFP needs to provide a policy framework that will restore marine ecosystems to healthy levels and deliver a fair allocation of resources internationally. This report sets out a number of proposed reforms to the CFP which would help bring about a more sustainable future for dwindling global fish stocks.

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New Economic Foundation