Fishes

Overfishing has teetered beyond critical in recent years, and the European Union just approved landmark legislation that could help to avert mass extinctions in the region.

According to the Huffington Post, a plan that’s received support from EU member states, European Parliament and the executive commission, “compels the fishing industry to respect scientific advice on overfishing, to vastly reduce the amount of healthy fish thrown back into the sea, and to protect sensitive areas at sea.”

Led by liberal parliamentarian Chris Davies who calls the approach “a complete change of thought,” Davies said, “If we carried on [without enacting protection laws], potentially 90 percent of all fish stocks would be unsustainable and at risk within the next decade.”

The new plan would bring an end to overfishing many species by 2015, namely cod, a staple fish throughout Europe for centuries. More species would follow suit by no later than 2020, and a ban on catch quotas that don’t meet scientific recommendations would also be implemented.

While popular with many environmentally-minded members of European Parliament, the measure needs approval from the member states and through Parliament, but approval is anticipated.

A victory would not mean instant recovery, however, and some supporters see this as the beginning of a long road ahead towards revitalizing ocean fish populations. “It is not going to turn everything around in the next couple of years. There are no quick fixes on this one,” said Mark Kurlansky, author of Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World.

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Image: tabsinthe