Fish have been an important and abundant source of food for millennia. As human population size has exploded and fishing practices have become more efficient, fish catches have increased dramatically. In 2018, the European Union caught over 5 million tonnes of fish, making it the fourth largest producer in the world1. Unfortunately, fish is no longer an abundant resource and fish stocks are under pressure. The EU’s common fisheries policy is committed to set sustainable fishing limitations to protect both the fish stocks and marine environment as well as the fishermen and consumers that depend on them1.
In practice, this means allowing fish catches to be as high as possible without affecting the long-term productivity of the fish stocks. Setting this catch limit requires continuous stock assessments of the different fish species in the European marine regions. The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES), an intergovernmental marine science organisation of over 5,000 scientists, play an important role in providing these fish stock assessments. They collect and make available statistics like fish catches and stocks for each of 99 different areas covering the European marine regions. The map of the week features the boundaries of these ICES fishing zones.
The data in this map were provided by ICES.