Overfishing ‘down’ in the Northeast Atlantic
Overfishing is falling in Europe, but progress is “uneven across regions”, according to a new assessment.
The European objective of 100% sustainable fishing by 2020 has “not been achieved” and climate change “inevitably” affects the distribution and growth of fish, according to the study published by the institute of French research Ifremer.
The Marine Institute of Ireland worked with Ifremer, the French Institute for Higher Education and Research L’Institut Agro and the Flemish Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) on the study of the state of fish populations in 2022.
The assessment states that the 2022 report of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) on the health status of fish in Europe “confirms the trends observed in the Atlantic over the past 20 years: overfishing is in decrease”.
It found that 72% of fish populations are “not overfished” in the northeast Atlantic area.
“Fish biomass has been increasing continuously since 2007 and was 33% higher in 2020 than in the early 2000s for the best-monitored populations; it was more than 50% higher for other populations with less follow-up,” he says.
It indicates that 86% of fish populations are overexploited in the Mediterranean, where the situation remains “critical”. In total, 29 of the 34 fish populations assessed are considered overexploited, while “many other species remain poorly monitored and poorly understood”.
It says climate change has a direct impact on marine biodiversity, as it “alters the distribution of species, reduces their available food and stunts their growth”.
“Each year, the ocean absorbs between 30% and 40% of the CO2 that human activity releases into the atmosphere. This excess CO2 causes ocean acidification, which weakens the concentration of carbon dioxide in the water. calcium,” the study says.
“Calcium carbonate is essential for plankton, corals, molluscs and many other calcifying marine organisms that use it to build their shells or internal skeletons,” he notes.
Carbon dioxide also increases water temperature, reducing available oxygen and decreasing plankton abundance.
“Using climate models created by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, scientists have established that by the end of the century, marine animal biomass may have declined by an average of 20 percent,” the report said. ‘study.
The study says scientists are taking an ecosystem approach, allowing them to “propose management scenarios that better account for all changes in the ecosystem, not just the direct consequences of fishing”.
“Scientists are also working on more technological aspects of fisheries management, such as developing more precise fishing methods. One idea is smart trawls that combine cameras and artificial intelligence to open and close based on the species being targeted,” he says.
Fostering more resilient ecosystems and encouraging good fisheries management are top priorities, according to the study.