End overfishing



Overfished stocks have one thing in common: They are on course for collapse and the livelihoods and ecosystems they support will go with them. All UK political parties should urgently commit to setting catch quotas in line with scientific advice at precautionary, sustainable limits.


Sustainable Fishing

Over a third of UK fish populations are being overfished and a quarter have been depleted to critically low population sizes, our 2023 report showed. Half of the ‘top 10’ fish stocks on which the UK fishing industry relies are overfished, like mackerel, or have reached a critically low population size, like North Sea cod.

This alarming situation is being driven by the government setting catch limits too high – exceeding scientific advice. To prevent the collapse of these populations and safeguard ocean wildlife, coastal communities and the fishing industry itself, the government must urgently commit to setting all catch limits in line with the science.

Our government claims to be striving for a ‘gold standard’ in fisheries management, yet they have do not have a clear strategy for achieving sustainable fisheries. One thing is evident: they cannot continue to ignore the science and rubber-stamp the rampant exploitation of our seas.


Setting sustainable catch limits is not an academic exercise: it has significant consequences for the UK. The British fishing industry has been in decline for decades as a result of overfishing, and effective ocean protection that includes sustainable regulation is its only hope for the future.

Recovered fish populations also mean recovered marine ecosystems where other sea life can thrive, in turn building blue carbon storage and supporting a range of coastal livelihoods from water sports to wildlife tourism.

The UK’s seas are the jewel in our nation’s crown. Setting aside 30% of our seas for nature and ensuring that all fishing is sustainable is a small investment that will pay us back many times over. We can and should show the world how well-designed ocean protection and sustainable fishing can provide prosperity for people and planet.


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