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Published:  16 October, 2012

WWF calls for MEPS to vote for strong CFP reform.

Enabling fish stocks to return to healthy and sustainable levels will result in an increase in landings, profit and income for the fisheries sector and fishermen, according to a new report published today (Tuesday October 16 2012).

'Socio-Economic Benefits of a Bold EU Fisheries', an independent study commissioned by WWF, is the first report to examine the potential social and economic benefits of the fisheries sector from a purely EU perspective, providing strong arguments for an ambitious reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, presently up for review.

WWF is calling on MEPs to vote for a strong EU fisheries reform with proper implementation that will allow fish stocks to recover. If they do so, the report indicates that within the next decade huge benefits could include:

. The UK fisheries sector registering an increase in earnings of 40% by 2022
. EU fishermen landing an additional 2.8 million tons of sustainably caught fish - an increase of around 80%
. The fisheries sector could generate an extra income of 1.7 billion per year - around 80% more
. Across the EU, income per fisherman could be up to 50% higher on average than it is today

Giles Bartlett, Fisheries Policy Officer at WWF-UK said: "EU Fisheries have the potential to be much more productive. A long-term stable supply of fish is possible, but only if fish resources are managed sustainably. Now is the time to put the much needed policy and financial structures in place to ensure stocks recover and allow the economic benefits from our fisheries to increase significantly."

During 2012 there have been some positive signs on stocks and even profits, but these reflect substantial efforts in certain fisheries and remain an exception rather than the rule, when looked at across European Waters.

Over the past 15 years, EU fisheries have been in continuous decline. Landings and employment have been falling at a steady rate of 4% per year and fishermen's incomes have stagnated. The discussion paper draws some stark conclusions for the future if the status quo continues. Without strong fisheries reform, by 2022:

. EU fishermen could land 1.4 million tons of fish less compared to 2009 - about 30% less
. EU fishing fleets could decrease by as much as 20%
. 50,000 fishermen will have lost their jobs across the EU - that's a 30% drop in employment, compared to 2009

Giles Bartlett continues: "Fisheries Ministers and the European Parliament need to heed the call of thousands of consumers and businesses across Europe who want to see a prosperous future for fish stocks, our fishing industry and our oceans. Our politicians have the opportunity and the power to secure profit for industry and income for fishermen - it is therefore vital they deliver a progressive reform of the Common Fisheries Policy."

WWF is calling for a Common Fisheries Policy that ensures:

. ensures fish populations are above levels which can support maximum sustainable yield (BMSY) by 2015;
. establishes multi-annual plans by 2015 and fishery-based co-management groups involving all stakeholders;
. enhances cooperation at regional level on sustainable management of fish stocks;
. stops the wasteful practice of discarding unwanted fish while bringing unwanted catches close to zero by 2018; at the latest
. limits subsidy payments to sustainable fishing practices;

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