Abstract European fish stocks have been overfished for decades and fishing fleets remain too large for the marine resources available. Fish populations could increase and generate more economic value if fishing pressure were reduced for just a few years. Hake has historically been the most representative commercial species of the Spanish fishing sector in the 20th century, and is in high demand in the Spanish market. In this paper we calculate the direct economic value of the Southern stock of European hake (Merluccius merluccius) under “recent catches” and different “rebuilding” scenarios. Three different scenarios are analysed and compared: (i) the real stock situation between 1986 and 2005; (ii) biomass simulation of the stock if the European Union (EU) fishing fleet had followed the ICES scientific recommendations (SRs) for quota allocation from 1986 to 2005; and (iii) biomass simulation of the stock if the EU fishing fleet progressively reduces discards as proposed by the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform between 2012 and 2022. The results suggest that the fishing industry prefers short-term economic profits, because the value of the stock was $415 million, which is higher than the $245 million obtained if the proposed SRs had been respected. If the exploitation rate of the last 20 years continues under the new CFP, the economic value of the stock amounts to only U$S258 million, which is well below the $415 million obtained between 1986 and 2005. Even if the discard volume were progressively reduced by 10–20%, the economic value of the stock would reach only $300 million, which is well below the $436 million estimated by our model if the SRs had been followed. The benefits of following SRs are not restricted to higher economic benefits, but; subsequent restrictive measures on fishing to ensure recovery of the stock might be lower, while consumers would have access to protein from the sea at more affordable prices.