Conclusions from the European Fishmeal conference on improved fisheries management models


On October 8, 2019, European Fishmeal, together with the Nordic Marine Think Tank (NMTT), hosted a Conference on Improved Fisheries Management Models to discuss the Fmsy project* and consider a way forward the management of North Atlantic Fisheries. The Conference included stakeholders from government agencies dealing with fisheries management, international fisheries management organisations, NGOs and the fishing industry.

The Fmsy project has involved internationally highly recognized scientists and estimates Fmsy values based on ecosystem functioning for specific North Atlantic fish stocks and some relevant stocks from the sea off North America.

The fish stock assessment models currently used in the North east Atlantic ignore important aspects of ecosystem functioning in terms of density dependent population dynamics with respect to growth, sexual maturity and mortality as well as species relations. This leads to a considerable underestimation of the fishing pressure (Fmsy) and the level of maximum sustainable yield (MSY), a central reference point in fisheries management.

The central conclusion of the project is that managing the Northeast Atlantic fisheries using the new Fmsy values would increase the sustainable catch by several million tons per year. Furthermore, the Fmsy values estimated in the project can be applied directly by ICES in their advice, and subsequently be adopted by management bodies in their current fisheries management.

Conference participants defined the key issue of present fisheries management regimes and practices as one of substantial “under-achievement” as present practice leave in the sea a potential benefit which could be made available for fishing communities and society at large. Participants recalled that the Fmsy project’s findings show that, on average, North Atlantic stocks could return 30 per cent more than is currently the case, and this without added risk for overfishing.

The meeting participants recommended that a working group under the ICES umbrella is set up to review and validate the work of the Fmsy project, and also to consider how it may be integrated with ICES advice. The European Commission and/or Member countries of ICES should request such work to be commenced. The Nordic fishing nations have a clear interest in seeing that the new Fmsy values are implemented, and that it happens urgently. The suggested ICES Working Group could recommend a fast-track application of the results of the Fmsy project.

*)  ”Ecosystem Based Fmsy Values in Fisheries Management”, see


  • Welcome and Introductions. Anne Mette Bæk, Director European Fishmeal, and Carl-Christian Schmidt, NMTT Chair:
  • Introduction and Overview of the results of the Fmsy project – Henrik Sparholt, Project Leader, and Petur Steingrund, Faroe Marine Research Institute:  to see the presentations click here and click here 
  • Views from the fishmeal sector by Johannes Palsson, President European Fishmeal: to see the presentations click here
  • What are the economic gains from changing fisheries management? Esben Sverdrup Jensen, Chair Pelagic Advisory Committee: to see the presentations click here
  • A view from the Danish Fisheries Organisation. Michael Andersen, chief biologist Danish Fishermen’s Association:to see the presentations click here
  • How fisheries policy makers can help move the agenda forwards. Ole Toft, Danish Director of Fisheries Policy: to read the notes for the speech click here
  • Panel discussion with participants. Panel to consist of Mogens Schou, Poul Degnbol  outlining a way forward for fisheries management. Moderated by Anne Mette Bæk and Carl-Christian Schmidt: