Despite numerous warnings and scientific studies, the EU countries are still catching too many fish from the North Sea. In particular British, Dutch, German and Danish fishermen are still allowed to catch more fish than is justified according to scientific standards. New catch quotas will soon be set by EU fisheries ministers.
Almost half of the European fish quotas that are intended to combat overfishing, was recently noted by a Dutch environmental organization. The organization points out that the European Union decided years ago that all fishing quotas from 1 January 2020 should be sustainable.
The criteria for 'sustainable fishing' are laid down in the MSC label. That goes far beyond the criteria that many fishermen have used to date. Although fishermen usually adhere to the weight quota and kilos of fishing, they do not always comply with the more comprehensive MSC rules.
The MSC standard also considers by-catches, bottom impacts and the way in which fisheries are managed. The selection of the MSC label is strict and it is often proof of good behavior for participating fishermen.
Fisheries organizations from the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Germany have recently worked together to have various types of fishery re-certified under the sustainability label of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The certificates were published last week.
MSC certifications are being expanded for Dutch fisheries. For example, not only the North Sea, but later also a part of the Skagerrak will be part of the certified catch area. Plaice and sole in the North Sea were already certified
The EU fisheries ministers meet in December to determine the fishing quotas for the coming year. They have been higher for years than what scientists recommend. Due to overfishing, for example, the state of cod in the North Sea has already fallen below a critical point, according to the research.
The Dutch nature organization has compared the recommendations of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) with the fishing ceilings that the ministers have set in recent years. Their conclusion is that almost half of the fish quota is now even higher than the maximum. Something has improved over the past ten years, but according to the foundation things are going too slowly.
Overruns by a few percent can also lead to a decline in populations in the long term. That is at the expense of the resilience of a fish species.