Oceana urges fisheries Council to prioritize environmental objectives in fisheries reform

Today, fisheries ministers from the 27 EU Member States will gather in Brussels for the third orientation debate on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Press Release Date: May 14, 2012

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

Oceana urges the Council to support a CFP that prioritizes environmental objectives, because without healthy seas, there can be no sustainable fishing – and no future for the European fleet.

“Years of mismanagement of the marine environment have led us to the economic and social situation we are in now. Postponing difficult decisions will only move us further away from the long term approach that fisheries management requires,” said Xavier Pastor, Executive Director of Oceana Europe. “The discussion happening today is critical because its outcome will tell us if this reform will be a success or a failure”.

The marine conservation organization strongly supports the current CFP objective to achieve MSY by 2015 and urges ministers not to postpone taking the necessary decisions to move towards this goal. The EU is already bound by its own legislation, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, to reach a good environmental status of marine waters by 2020– an objective which will require the full implementation of the ecosystem-based approach.

Oceana believes that the Council debate should be broadened to discuss the full spectrum of requirements to properly implement this approach, which include:

  • The obligation to manage all commercially exploited species. Currently, 686 species are exploited and commercialized in the EU without catch limits, representing 31% of the EU fleet total captured volume and 36% of the total economic value of captures landed in EU ports.
  • The obligation to identity and protect essential fish habitats because they are the most fragile and vital marine habitats that play a critical role in supporting the biological needs of fish species (e.g., spawning, nursery, and feeding grounds).

Finally, no CFP reform will find success without a correspondingly strong reform of the EMFF. EU taxpayer money should be used to support the objectives set by the policy and to invest in the long term economic viability of the fishing industry, by giving priority to measures that ensure productive and healthy oceans: 

  • Investments in public services and ecosystem restoration, such as the creation of more Marine Protected Areas;
  • Proper enforcement of fisheries management;
  • Collection of scientific data and the increase of scientific assessments.

“Previous fisheries funds have failed because they have contributed to maintaining fleet overcapacity and the overexploitation of resources,” added Vanya Vulperhorst, policy advisor at Oceana Europe. “In these times of economic crisis, every tax payer euro should be spent to improve the state of fish stocks and marine ecosystems, so that everyone benefits.”  

Learn More: Oceana Position Paper on MSY

Learn More: Non-Managed Species in EU Fisheries

Learn More: The European Union and Fishing Subsidies