As an important source of protein and a crucial component of a healthy diet, fish is one of the all-time favourite dishes of Europeans. Unfortunately, decades of overfishing have decimated natural fish populations. This means that we are catching more fish than their populations are able to naturally regenerate, leading to a decline in fish stocks over time.
The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy is committed to set sustainable catch limitations to protect both the fish stocks and marine environment, as well as the fishermen and consumers that depend on them. These Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits are determined yearly (every two years for deep-sea fish) based on stock assessments of the different fish species in European waters and scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF). The allowed catch of each fish species is then shared between the EU member states, after which they divide their national quota between their fishermen or exchange it among other EU countries. Yesterday, the European Commission proposed the TAC for three deep-sea fish species (roundnose grenadier, red seabream, black scabbardfish) in the North-East Atlantic for 2021 and 2022. In order to allow these fish stocks to regenerate, decreases in the TAC are proposed in some North-East Atlantic regions. Furthermore, the proposal also includes a prohibition on fishing for critically threatened deep-sea sharks.
Once TAC limits have been set, the volumes of fish being caught and traded are then monitored by the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products (EUMOFA).
Wondering where and how much fish is being caught by EU member states? The map of the week shows the total volume of fish and shellfish catches in each of the major fishing zones in 2018. Click on a particular zone to see how catches have evolved over the last two decades.
The data in this map are provided by Eurostat.