• Common Fisheries Policy;
  • global assessment;
  • impact of TAC regulation;
  • overexploitation of fishery resources


This paper combines official data from 1990–2007 for (i) the Total Allowable Catchs (TACs) recommended by International Council for the Exploration for the Sea (ICES) scientists and the proposed and approved TACs and (ii) biomass, recruitment, catches, fishing effort, and current exploitation rates for all marine populations subjected to TAC regulation. The differences between the fishing quotas and the scientific recommendations provided by the ICES were calculated to be 19% after the first CFP reform (1992–2001) and 21% after the second one (2002–2008). In some species, these differences showed a three-fold increase, in particular those currently considered to be beyond the biological safety limits.

Regarding the most important index of abundance, the results also indicate a biomass and recruitment reduction of ∼75–85% of the stocks and 90% of catches, whereas the fishing mortality increased in 35% of stocks. In addition, of all populations analysed under TAC regulation, 20% presents an increase in the current exploitation rate, 17% did not show significant changes, and the remaining 63% presented a reduction between 1990 and 2007. These results could contribute to the recovery of stocks. However, following the methodology used by Worm et al. who reported that 6 out of the 10 (60%) marine ecosystems examined showed current exploitation rate values that were significantly higher than those that provide the maximum sustainable yield, this study demonstrates that 86% of the populations regulated by TACs present values higher than exploitation rates that give maximum sustainable yield, following an alarming pattern of exploitation.