Good news for fish lovers around the world: after a period of an alarming amount of overfishing, European fish stocks are reportedly “on the road to recovery.”
A recent study published in a U.S. scientific journal called Current Biology found that many stocks in the northeast Atlantic Ocean bordering European territory are now being fished at sustainable levels. Researchers attributed this decline in fishing pressure to the continuous effort controls of the 2002 reforms to the European Union’s (E.U.) Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
In the study, Robin Cook of the University of Strathclyde and Paul Fernandes of the University of Aberdeen used data collected by government research institutes to examine the status of 57 stocks monitored over 60 years in the northeast Atlantic.
The study predicted that these stocks should recover in time if continuously fished at this level. The E.U. has called for further CFP reforms that will build on the success of the major reduction in fishing pressure and recognize that this achievement is merely a “first step” on a long road to sustained recovery.
Dr. Roberts from the University of York cautions that only a small fraction of the total exploited populations have been monitored over the course of the study. Cod stocks, for example, have not recovered significantly since the 2002 reforms, and will require further work to restore their fleet.
Regardless, this first step towards more sustainable European fishing practices should serve as inspiration for other major international players to follow suit and reform their own fishing policies. When caught sustainably, fish can be a healthy part of a balanced diet, providing consumers with key vitamins and nutrients.