Environmentalists Are Not Happy About Europe's New Fishing Restrictions

After decades of overfishing and dwindling stocks, European officials decided to regulate catch limits but the proposed targets were not economically viable for the fishermen affected by it.

Dec 18 2015, 8:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Sarah_Ackerman

Anglers and fried fish enthusiasts rejoice!

After decades of overfishing and dwindling stocks, European officials decided to regulate catch limits last year to allowing replenishing in the Atlantic and the North Sea. But the European Union has decided to cut down on aggressive fishing limits that were put in place last year after lobbying by fishermen whose livelihood was threatened by the environmental regulation, Reuters is reporting.

In the English Channel, the catch limit will be cut by 14 percent instead of 32 percent and cod limits will be cut by 19 percent instead of the original proposal of 30 percent, the French Secretary of State for Fisheries Alain Vidalies told Reuters.

READ: Fishing Is One of the Most Deadly Jobs in the UK

While fishermen are relieved by these reductions, environmental groups like Greenpeace and the Pew Charitable Trust called the agreement "disappointing" and "concerning," respectively.

Other species affected by the new policy will be sole and hake, both of which have been deemed "sustainably managed" and will be permitted a 10 percent increase in catches.

"Aiming for maximum sustainable yield closer to the end date of 2020 is too risky. It is therefore in everyone's interest to avoid high cuts at the end," EU Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella told Reuters.

All of which is good news for the fishermen who felt threatened by overzealous environmental regulators. "This is worth around 25 million pounds to the white fish sector and, when combined with increasing prices and lower costs, should lead to a good year for Scottish fishing," Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead told the Daily Record.

READ: Humanely Killed Fish Tastes Better

Lochhead also added that the new policy framework and reviewed maximums will not affect environmental targets. "Crucially, this will help manage the start of the discard ban, which stops fish being thrown back into the sea dead, for haddock next year. The triple boost for the industry of increased quota, increasing fish prices, and lower costs is a reward for their conservation efforts and the sacrifices they have made."

It's also great news for British fish n' chips enthusiasts who are largely dependent on imports from Nordic countries like Iceland to keep up with their insatiable appetite for battered and deep fried white fish.

According to the Federation of Fish Friers, British consumers consume approximately 382 million portions of fish and chips every year—about six servings for every man, woman, and child, and starting next year, much more of that fish will come from British fishermen.

The proposed changes are to go into effect on January 1, 2016.