New Pact Commits Nations to Rebuilding a Healthy Mediterranean Sea
Ministers and high-level representatives from Mediterranean countries signed a historic declaration to address the fisheries crisis in the region. The ministerial declaration, Malta MedFish4Ever, will be the blueprint for cooperation and the sustainable development of fisheries for all coastal states in the Mediterranean over the next 10 years. For years, Oceana has campaigned for catch limits, better enforcement and habitat protections in order to rebuild depleted Mediterranean fish stocks. A recent study commissioned by Oceana revealed that Mediterranean catches could increase by 200 percent in some areas if managed effectively. The MedFish4Ever agreement is a critical political commitment to rebuilding Mediterranean fisheries.
Oceana and its allies launch the transparency database www.whofishesfar.org, an online database detailing 15,264 EU vessels authorised to fish outside EU waters between 2010 and 2014. The figures were made public for the first time after an access-to-information request to the European Commission. Transparency is a key element for eradicating illegal fishing and ensuring sustainable fisheries.
EU Moves Away from Harmful Subsidies
European Parliament and the Fisheries Council reached a political agreement on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the financial mechanism that will allow the implementation of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy over the next seven years. Previous fisheries subsidies schemes have given priority to short-term economic interests at the expense of sustainability, using taxpayer’s money to increase fleet capacity and fund overfishing.
Oceana supports the efforts of the European Parliament and Council to stop this toxic pattern, and shift spending towards beneficial measures such as control and data collection. However, Oceana also acknowledges that the EU must move further to make a clean break from harmful subsidies, including recognizing risks associated with certain environmentally harmful subsidies, like those for new engines and the temporary cessation of fishing activity.
EU Bans All Shark Finning
As of 6 July, 2013, all sharks caught in European waters or by European vessels will have to be landed with their fins still naturally attached. Celebrating the arrival of the long-awaited, strict EU ban on shark finning, Oceana welcomes the new EU regulation’s entry into effect, on Saturday. It ends nearly a decade of battle to close several enforcement loopholes that had weakened the previous EU policy. In particular, an exemption used only by Spain and Portugal had allowed some vessels to remove shark fins at sea, which made it extremely difficult even to detect when finning had occurred. Since the beginning of its work in Europe, Oceana has campaigned for a strict ban on shark finning as one important aspect of improved shark fisheries management in the EU.
“At long last, the EU has a real and enforceable ban on shark finning, with global implications,” commented Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana in Europe. “The EU catches more sharks than any country in the world, and plays a key role in regional fisheries management organisations where finning remains an acknowledged problem. After ten years with a flawed ban in place, it can now make a serious effort to tackle the issue internationally.”
Dramatic Reforms for Europe's Fisheries
The European Parliament approved major reforms to the Common Fishery Policy, a law that manages all European fisheries. Members overwhelmingly voted in favor of a comprehensive reform policy that includes amendments – many of which were proposed by Oceana – that require member states to fish all stocks at sustainable levels by 2015 and comply with a strong EU-wide discard ban, and puts an end to the practice of “discards”, throwing dead unwanted fish back into the sea. Oceana campaigned for years to make sure that this once in a decade opportunity to reform the failed EU fisheries policy was not wasted.
E.U. Parliament Votes to Curb Overfishing
After 18 months of negotiations, the Fisheries Committee of the EU parliament voted to put in place new measures that would effectively end overfishing and greatly improve the way the EU manages its fisheries, which have been historically poor managed and overfished. In recent years, the majority of its scientifically-assessed fisheries have been found to be overexploited. The measures supported by MEPs include an obligation to set catch limits above maximum sustainable yield levels by 2015, in order for stocks to recover by 2020, and a clear ban on discards. Oceana has been campaigning for these changes for years. The new reforms now go to a vote before the entire European Parliament.
E.U. goes “fins attached”
The European Parliament approved a strict ban on shark finning, closing a crucial loophole in EU law by requiring that all sharks caught in EU waters, and by EU vessels in international waters, be landed with their fins attached. This is a monumental achievement for sharks and one that Oceana campaigned for. The EU is the world’s largest exporter of shark fins to Hong Kong and mainland China and the new EU rule represents a huge step forward in the conservation of sharks.
Preventing 20,000,000 Tons of Oil from Being Illegally Dumped in the Ocean
A new law was passed by the European Union that imposes criminal sanctions, including heavy fines and even jail terms, for the owners, operators and financiers of boats that illegally dump oily waters and residues into the sea. The new law could prevent as much as 20,000,000 tons of polluting substances from getting into the ocean every year – the single biggest reduction in oil pollution in decades, anywhere in the world.