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Data source: European Commission

Geographical Area: Entire North Sea and Baltic Sea

Note: MSY: Maximum Sustainable Yield.

This table includes additional information to the above visualized indicators, i.e. a short definition of this indicator and a description of the politically determined target values as well as explaining the political intention behind selecting this indicator.


The indicator shows the sustainably managed fish stocks (according to the Maximum Sustainable Yield [MSY] approach) as a proportion of the total of managed fish stocks in the North and the Baltic Sea.

Target and intention

Biological diversity is fundamental to all human life. Only if the natural capital – for example, in the form of fish stocks in the North and the Baltic Sea – is protected and preserved it can also provide future generations with critical ecosystem services.
The target of the indicator is to describe the extent to which the goal defined in the Regulation on the Common Fisheries Policy has been achieved. The goal states that all fish stocks used for economic purposes have to be sustainably managed in accordance with the MSY approach by 2020.

Data status

The data published in the indicator report 2022 is as of 31 October 2022. The data shown on this platform is updated regularly, so that more current data may be available online than published in the indicator report 2022.

Text from the Indicator Report 2022 

Not all fish stocks are examined with reference to their sustainable management. Therefore, the number of fish stocks that are sustainably managed based on the MSY approach should always be viewed in relation to overall fish stocks. Although an expansion of the investigation to include as many stocks as possible is desirable, the high cost of these investigations means that the prospect of recording all stocks, even those that are economically less relevant and less fished, is unrealistic. Based on current estimates, a total of 58 fish stocks in the North Sea and 20 stocks in the Baltic Sea are used for economic purposes. The number of stocks examined using the MSY approach is currently eight in the Baltic Sea and 22 in the North Sea. This means that only a third of all managed stocks are fully analysed with respect to sustainable management. All other stocks for which the data available are not sufficient for analysis according to the MSY method are not included in this indicator.

A stock is considered to be “sustainably managed” if the actual amount of fish caught per year and the fish stock do not exceed the scientifically recommended amount based on the MSY approach, or if they comply with the requirements of a long-term management plan assessed as sustainable according to the MSY approach. In this context, a “fish stock“ is defined as an independently reproducing population of a specific species of fish. A specific species can therefore have multiple stocks and, depending on the stock, can also have different guideline values regarding the amount of fish caught. As a rule, each stock is assigned a guideline value according to its previous development.

The guideline values for the managed stocks are calculated by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. Data is collected for the whole North and Baltic Sea in order to calculate the indicator. Accordingly, a distinction between the values for German territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone for Germany is not feasible.

The annual calculation of the amounts of fish caught sustainably according to the MSY approach is based on stochastic predictions, which use calculations of historical stock trends. Information about fish quantities landed is based on reported catches. Samples taken from this provide insights into the demographic parameters of the population, such as age and size. Other important sources of information on the state of fish stocks are scientific surveys conducted on research vessels that are independent of the fishing industry. Indicator values of previous years are subject to retrospective changes due to new estimates on an annual basis for the time series and updates with regards to the relevant fish species.

In 2020, the sustainably managed stocks of fish accounted for 60.0 % of the total stocks examined in accordance with the MSY approach in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. The relevant proportions were 59.1 % in the North Sea and 62.5 % in the Baltic Sea. Regarding the development between 2015 and 2020, the overall progress was positive. The target to sustainably manage economically relevant fish stocks according to the MSY approach was missed.

It is difficult to assess the indicator because it is influenced in addition to the development of the stocks, also by the selection of stocks to be considered. Thus, the basis of assessment can vary from year to year, which makes it difficult to compare the results of individual years. In addition, the recommended amounts of fish caught apply across countries and therefore can only be fulfilled indirectly by the efforts of a single country alone.

The synoptic table provides information about the evaluation of the indicator in previous years. It shows if the weather symbol assigned to an indicator was rather stable or volatile in the past years. (Evaluation of the Indicator Report 2022 )


14.1.b Share of sustainably fished stocks of fish in the North and Baltic Seas


All fish stocks used for commercial purpos-es to be sustainably managed in accordance with the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) approach by 2020






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