Target 4

Ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources: “Achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) by 2015*. Achieve a population age and size distribution indicative of a healthy stock, through fisheries management with no significant adverse impacts on other stocks, species and ecosystems, in support of achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) by 2020, as required under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. (*) The reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which entered into force in 2014 aims to ensure MSY exploitation rates for all stocks by 2015 where possible, and at the latest by 2020.”

Significant progress has been made in setting the policy framework for sustainable fisheries under the reformed EU common fisheries policy (e.g. regional seas’ multi-annual fisheries management plans), and of good environmental status under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The Commission is promoting improvements in oceans governance for more sustainable management of marine resources. However, policy implementation has been uneven across the EU and major challenges remain to ensure that the objectives are achieved according to schedule. In the ICES area, among the 65 to 71 stocks that are fully assessed over the years, the proportion of overexploited stocks decreased from more than 70% to close to 40% over the last 10 years. Although fishing pressure may be reducing, other pressures such as pollution from agricultural intensification has negatively affected water quality (e.g. eutrophication of the Baltic Sea), and more than 40% of coastal waters in the EU are affected by diffuse water pollution from agriculture. As a result of multiple pressures such as; seafloor damage, pollution by nutrient enrichment and contaminants, the spreading of non-indigenous species, and climate change and associated ocean acidification marine species and ecosystems continue to decline across Europe’s seas.

Indicators used in this assessment

CSI 032: Status of marine fish and shellfish stocks in European sea

Estimated trends in fish stock biomass

Assessed fish stocks exceeding fishing mortality at maximum sustainable yield (Fmsy)

Number of stocks fished at the MSY rate per regional fishing area

Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) Mediterranean and Black Sea assessments

Number of multi-annual fishing plans

Number of stocks where rate of fishing is known against MSY rate per fishing region

Number of Deep Sea VME's within EU EEZ and status and/or advice on fishing restrictions

Conservation status of species in marine ecosystems

Conservation status and trends of habitats assessed as unfavourable, per biogeographic and marine region

Status assessment of natural features reported by EU MS under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)

Number of EU Red Listed Marine Fishes

Status of marine fisheries stocks

Relevant websites, links, and files

Policy Statement for 2019 – state of play with CFP implementation

Existence of an EU policy to reduce unwanted catches and eliminate discards

The Existence of a Seabird By-catch Action Plan: "Action Plan for reducing incidental catches of seabirds in fishing gears"

Actions to reduce marine mammal by-catch

Commission Staff Working Document (2015), EU Assessment of Progress in Implementing the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020

EEA (2015), Technical report on State of Europe's seas

IPBES (2018), Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Europe and Central Asia