New study backs S&D proposal to increase protected fish areas to 20% of EU waters


Fish stock recovery areas should cover 'at least 10-20% of EU member states' territorial seas ', according to a new independent study presented yesterday at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Ulrike Rodust, S&D spokesperson on fisheries, said:
 "The EU is running out of fish. Many stocks are overexploited and 60% of fish products are already imported from third countries. Our fisheries risk becoming unsustainable if we do not increase the number of protected areas for the recovery of fish stocks and extend their coverage. " 
Evidence from hundreds of marine reserves across the world – including many in Europe – indicates that protected populations usually respond rapidly and positively when marine reserves are established. Stocks of commercially exploited fish respond most strongly and can increase many times over – sometimes by ten-fold or more.
The current situation in the EU is very patchy, with countries like the UK  and  Denmark doing better and others, like Belgium and Portugal, with very small and widely scattered marine reserves.
 S&D MEP Kriton Arsenis said: 
"The study presented in the European Parliament confirms that establishing fish stock recovery areas will deliver major benefits by allowing commercially exploited fish stocks to recover and thus securing the economic viability of the EU fishing sector.
"In order to ensure that this tool is effective it is vital to include a clear legal obligation with an overall target in terms of the percentage of the EU's territorial waters these areas should cover and a deadline for them to be established. According to the study a 20% target is a minimum, based on robust scientific data taken from existing examples of such areas throughout the EU. This may be the only chance we get to protect the fish stocks and ecosystems in our oceans; we need to make sure that we don't miss it."
S&D MEP Guido Milana, vice-chairman of the European Parliament committee on fisheries, said:
"A radical reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is needed and the establishment of a network of fish stock recovery areas is a vital and effective tool to help reverse the collapse of the European fishing sector by safeguarding the long-term sustainability and conservation of fish stocks.  
"Fishermen should be involved in the choice of these areas"
"These areas – in which all fishing activities are banned – will enable commercially exploited fish stocks to recover. As a result of spill-over, fishermen will greatly benefit as they will be able to catch larger quantities of fish with much less fishing effort." 
Paolo Alberti
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