EU governments have not applied fishing restrictions strictly enough in recent years, putting the economic interests of their fishing industries above scientific evidence of stock depletion, the European Commission said today (Monday). It plans to remedy this by replacing the present annual Total Allowance Catch system with a multi-annual scheme that could limit catches for four to five years or longer. Under the plan, which will have to be agreed by ministers and which will also be proposed to some non-member nations like Norway and Iceland, the “precautionary principle” will be introduced. This means that conservation action may be taken even when there is not firm evidence of specific fish shortages.

By Alan Osborn