EU Parliament delivers blow to sustainable Atlantic fishing

MEPs forget about legal deadline to achieve sustainable fishing in all EU waters by 2020

Press Release Date: October 9, 2018

Location: Brussels


Marta Madina | email: | tel.: Marta Madina

MEPs have today introduced changes that significantly weaken a plan to better manage fisheries in the European waters of the Atlantic Ocean. After a vote in the European Parliament, the Fisheries Committee voted to take a step backwards on sustainably managing the fishing grounds for 8 major EU fishing countries and overlooked legal obligations under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) to sustainably manage EU waters by 2020.

In response to the vote, Oceana released the following statement from Lasse Gustavsson, executive director for Oceana in Europe:

Some MEPs today seem to have the memory of a goldfish. You cannot one day sprinkle speeches with ‘sustainability’ and then not deliver on plans that can make a difference. Sustainably managing our fish resources is a legal obligation since 2014 and this must be done before 2020. At this rate, it’s not going to happen. They will let down their voters and the wider a European public, who are demanding better management of our oceans and fish supplies.”

The report, led by French MEP Alain Cadec, was amended to introduce weak provisions, including a possible delay to 2023 from the current 2020 legal deadline to ensure all EU waters will be fished sustainably. This is not only contradictory to the EU Common Fisheries Policy that the MEPs endorsed in the 2013 reform, but it also sets an uneven playing field and is unfair for fishermen from other regions, who have been complying with the law.

Other poor measures include a so-called “sunset clause”, which allows the plan to expire after several years, leaving fishermen in legal limbo. It also contains exceptions for fishing in closed areas. Some amendments the MEPs adopted are contradictory and therefore make the report incoherent and goes against the current legal framework.

Notes to the editor

Western Waters is a northeast Atlantic area roughly covering the waters located west of Scotland and Ireland, the Celtic Sea, the Irish Sea and the English Channel, as well as the Bay of Biscay, the Iberian waters and the waters around the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands.

EU countries such as Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK all have fishing fleets operating there for key commercial and popular fish such as cod, haddock, plaice, sole, hake, Norway lobster, anglerfish and megrims, and which represented around 368,000 tonnes in 2017, with a first sale value of around €1.4 billion.

However, these fishing grounds are heavily fished. Recent estimates show that around 40% of stocks in this area are now overfished, casting doubt on the long-term sustainability of the stocks.

Environmental NGOs have called on the EU to deliver a fisheries management plan for the region that ensures the full recovery of fish stocks. Back in 2013, during the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, EU countries committed to a 2020 deadline to end overfishing by 2015 or by 2020 at the latest. Any pressure or attempt to postpone the sustainable recovery of oceans resources should be not tolerated.

The Western Waters fisheries management plan will now be sent for a vote in the European Parliament plenary, which is the last chance for MEPs to correct their mistake today.

The plan will then be up for final negotiation with the Council of the European Union, which represents EU Member States, with final adoption expected in 2019.


Environmental NGOs outline sustainability measures for EU Western Waters

EU Parliament documents 

#StopOverfishing #WWMAP #CFPreality