By Undercurrent News June 6, 2019 09:42 BST
“European fishing body Europeche has said that while the industry can pose a potential risk to the marine environment, with proper fisheries management and industry-led efforts, fish stocks are increasing.
This came in response to the new report from the UN expert group on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which found ecosystems are declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history, with many species facing extinction at accelerating rates.
According to the report, the oceans are no exception to this trend caused by changes in sea use, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change, pollution, and invasive alien species.
Proof that fishing need not be detrimental to the environment comes as "thanks to fisheries management and industry-led efforts, fish stocks have been generally increasing in many areas such as the North East Atlantic, currently reaching levels 36% higher than in 2003".
"This positive trend shows that UN’s extinction warning, particularly for fish populations, is a bit far-fetched."
UN expert authors highlighted that about 66% of the marine environment has been significantly altered by human actions, and claimed that 55% of the ocean is covered by industrial fishing. The report also states that, in 2015, 33% of marine fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels.
According to Europeche, the report strongly overestimates fisheries' impact on global biodiversity in the oceans.
"The sector recalls that fish know no borders. Fishermen need to ‘chase’ highly mobile marine species across the oceans to provide healthy food to consumers. However, this does not mean that EU operators fish everywhere."
Thanks to recent high-resolution data of fishing activities, the footprint of fishing worldwide is revealed to be less than 4%, and not 55%, it said.
Europeche acknowledged that further efforts were needed towards achieving the global goal to have all commercial fish stocks exploited at sustainable levels. "However, it is to be noted that the majority of global fisheries (67%) are currently sustainable."
It also said a large number of fish come from sustainable populations; about 82% of the fish consumed worldwide is sustainably caught, 86% in the case of tuna. As for Europe, almost 100% of the landings from Atlantic stocks managed by the EU come from catches responsibly fished in line with the maximum sustainable yield policy, it added.”
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