July 2017

Baltic Sea fishing fleets toying with access rights in quest to overfish Baltic Cod

Baltic Sea fishing fleets toying with access rights in quest to overfish Baltic Cod

Copenhagen, 14 July 2017:– Responding to recommendations for 2018 fishing opportunities made by the Baltic Sea Advisory Council (BSAC), Our Fish Campaign manager Rebecca Hubbard said today that the German and Danish bottom trawling industry must stop trying to use obfuscation to shield scrutiny of its overfishing and its attempts to disenfranchise eastern Baltic countries of their fisheries rights.

“Big fishing industry players from the  richer western countries of the EU, like Denmark and Germany, are not only threatening to decimate the Western Baltic Cod stock by setting fishing limits far above scientific advice, they are also threatening the eastern Baltic states’ access to fresh, locally caught fish and historic access rights, by adding eastern cod quota to the western quota”, said Hubbard.

The Council of EU fisheries ministers set 2017 fishing limits for Western Baltic Cod stocks 352% higher than scientific advice, despite the fact that they were teetering on the edge of commercial collapse (1,2).

The Baltic Sea Advisory Council, dominated by large scale fishing interests, is encouraging the same approach this year with their recommendations for a Total Allowable Catch of 8,597 tonnes – 62% higher than the upper recommended limit by International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). This includes an extra 3,000 tonnes under the auspices of eastern Baltic cod mixing in the western Baltic zones. The Latvian fishing association voted against this quota transfer in the Advisory Council (3,4,5).

“Almost every year, for the last eleven years, the Baltic Sea Advisory Council has argued for higher western Baltic cod fishing limits than ICES scientists advise, claiming that these are due to socio-economic concerns for their industry. In reality, overfishing is a driver of these socio-economic problems, and the large scale trawling interests that dominate BSAC use coastal passive gear fishers as a human shield – an excuse to increase fishing limits for themselves, who are also responsible for the historic overfishing“, says Hubbard adding,  “This happens while the small, passive gear fishers, more dependent on healthy fish stocks due to their lower fishing capacity, are left to fight over the scraps of a dying fishery.”

The eastern Baltic cod stock has fallen from an extraordinary peak of 400,000 tonnes in 1984 to just under 57,000 tonnes in 1992, and ICES advice for 2018 recommends a commercial catch around 26,000 tonnes (6). BSAC are recommending this be set 20% higher at over 30,000 tonnes in the eastern Baltic zones, plus an additional 3,000 tonnes be added to the western Baltic cod quota to account for mixing of eastern cod in the western Baltic Sea.

“Just because eastern Baltic cod are in the western Baltic, does not mean we increase the western Baltic cod fishing limit – they are different stocks with finite limits that cannot be continuously disregarded without repercussions”.

“The only thing that these obtuse quota maths add up to is a relentless pursuit to overfish by Danish and German bottom trawlers. This push for overfishing and quota grabbing  comes as a warning for how Denmark will likely approach the Presidency of BALTFISH, that began on  July 1st. It appears that Danish quota barons are still steering the boat on fisheries management in the region and nothing but a shipwreck will stop them”, concluded Hubbard.

ENDS

Notes

31 May 2017: Baltic Sea Ministers Must Act To Stop Cod Collapse

https://our.fish/en/2017/05/31/baltic-sea-ministers-must-act-stop-cod-collapse/

Eastern Baltic states have very little quota access to western Baltic cod, however Denmark has the largest share of western Baltic cod (46%) and the second largest share of eastern Baltic cod (23%). Poland has the largest share of eastern Baltic cod (33%), while Latvia and Lithuania get 9% and 6% respectively. These percentages don’t change with the level of fishing limits annually, as they are based on historic access to the fishery known as “relative stability”, so if eastern Baltic cod is now getting counted in the western Baltic zones where eastern Baltic states have no access to quota, relative stability will be affected.

  1. Western Baltic cod has been overfished for a number of years, so that even after a strong 2016 year class, stocks are still at the second lowest biomass levels since the early 1980s, and outside of safe limits for repopulating to a healthy state. ICES (2017), ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort, Baltic Sea Ecoregion. Published 31 May 2017. Cod.27.22-24
  2. New Economics Foundation (2017), Landing the Blame – Overfishing in the Baltic 2017.
  3. Baltic Sea Advisory Council recommendations for the fishery 2018 http://bsac.dk/BSAC-Resources/BSAC-Statements-and-recommendations/BSAC-recommendations-for-the-fishery-2018
  4. When BSAC recommendations are compared with ICES recommendations, they have been consistently above the science http://bsac.dk/BSAC-Resources/BSAC-Statements-and-recommendations; http://www.ices.dk/publications/library/Pages/default.aspx
  5. Information on Danish fleet: https://stecf.jrc.ec.europa.eu/documents/43805/1034590/2015-07_STECF+15-07+-+AER+2015_JRCxxx.pdf
  6. ICES (2017), ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort, Baltic Sea Ecoregion. Published 31 May 2017. cod.27.25-32

 

Contacts

Dave Walsh, Communications Advisor, dave@our.fish +34 691826764

Rebecca Hubbard, Campaign Manager, rebecca@our.fish +34 657669425

About Our Fish

Our Fish works to ensure European member states implement the Common Fisheries Policy and achieve sustainable fish stocks in European waters.

Our Fish brings together organisations from across Europe to speak with a common voice: overfishing of our waters must be stopped, and solutions put in place that ensure Europe’s waters are fished sustainably. Our Fish demands that the Common Fisheries Policy be properly enforced, and Europe’s fisheries effectively governed.

Our Fish calls on all EU Member States to set annual fishing limits at sustainable limits based on scientific advice, and to ensure that their fishing fleets prove that they are fishing sustainably, through monitoring and full documentation of their catch.

http://www.ourfish.eu

 

Onboard monitoring needed to prove North Sea Cod not illegally discarded

Onboard monitoring needed to prove North Sea Cod not illegally discarded

London, 7 July 2017 :-  Responding to reports that the UK’s North Sea cod fishery has achieved Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards, Our Fish campaign manager Rebecca Hubbard said:

“With North Sea cod set to hit UK supermarket shelves again, both retailers and the MSC must demonstrate to consumers that not only are these cod stocks sustainable, but that illegal discarding is not taking place in the fishery”.

According to a report published by Undercurrent News, the Scottish Fisheries Sustainable Accreditation Group (SFSAG) “should be certified in accordance” with the MSC standard, based on an assessment by  ME Certification, the conformity assessment body, for its North Sea Cod fishery. (1)

“Given the historically high levels of discarding in the North Sea Cod fishery, fishing vessels should at least have onboard electronic monitoring to give assurance that no illegal and unreported discarding is taking place. Failure to implement such monitoring would not only undermine credibility in the fishery, it will undermine the progress made to revitalise the fishery itself”, added Hubbard. (2)

In order to avoid  the waste of thousands of tonnes of unwanted fish and marine resources each year, the reformed Common Fisheries Policy introduced the Landing Obligation in December 2013, making it illegal for fishermen to throw away certain species at sea, and requiring that all catches are counted against their quotas. It has been phased-in since 2015, and will be entirely implemented across European seas by 2019, with North Sea Cod coming under the Landing Obligation this year. However reports of weak implementation and poor enforcement suggest that there is a high level of illegal and unreported discarding, especially in bottom trawl fisheries. (3,4,5)

A report from the Scheveningen Control Experts Group highlighted the high risk of illegal discarding by the trawl sector in the North Sea and a recent scientific report found that bottom trawl fisheries like the UK North Sea Cod are at high risk of failing MSC certification or failing to continue to be certified in the case of poor implementation of the Landing Obligation through not meeting monitoring requirements. (6,7)

“While the gradual recovery of North Sea Cod provides evidence that fish stocks can recover, we could see stronger recoveries if fisheries ministers stopped setting fishing limits above scientific advice, and instead enforced the reformed Common Fisheries Policy rules they have already signed up to”, concluded Hubbard. “ICES estimates that over 18 million kilos of North Sea Cod could be discarded in 2018. Failure to stop this discarding will threaten the success of improving fisheries, like North Sea Cod, and introduce illegality into the seafood supply chain.” (2)

ENDS

Notes:

  1. The Assessment body, ME Certification, has recommended that the Scottish Fisheries Sustainable Accreditation Group (SFSAG) (a group of Scottish and English fishing vessels) North Sea cod fishery is certified in accordance with the MSC standard. There is a 15-working-day period during which a previously involved stakeholder may lodge a notice of objection to this determination (COB 18 July 2017). https://www.undercurrentnews.com/2017/06/27/scottish-north-sea-cod-fishery-meets-msc-standard-says-certification-body/ & Scottish Fisheries Sustainable Accreditation Group (SFSAG) North Sea cod  https://fisheries.msc.org/en/fisheries/scottish-fisheries-sustainable-accreditation-group-sfsag-north-sea-cod/@@assessments
  2. ICES (2017), ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort.  Greater North Sea Ecoregion cod.27.47d20. Published 30 June 2017.
  3. European PArliament Public Hearing on the State of Play of the Implementation of the Landing Obligation and Allocation of Quotas by the Member States http://www.europarl.europa.eu/cmsdata/117542/Veronika%20Veits_DG%20Mare.pdf
  4. European Court of Auditors (2017) no 08, Special Report – EU fisheries controls: more efforts needed
  5. ICES (2017), ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort, Baltic Sea Ecoregion. Cod.27.25-32. Published 31 May 2017.
  6. Scheveningen control expert group, 2016, Report on Control and Monitoring of the demersal Landing Obligation: Risk assessment and risk treatment.
  7. Blyth-Skyrme, R. & L. Borges (2016). Assessing the implications of the Landing Obligation on MSC certified fisheries in Europe. A report for Funding Fish, August 2016.

 

Contacts

Dave Walsh, Communications Advisor, dave@our.fish +34 691826764

Rebecca Hubbard, Campaign Manager, rebecca@our.fish +34 657669425

About Our Fish

Our Fish works to ensure European member states implement the Common Fisheries Policy and achieve sustainable fish stocks in European waters.

Our Fish brings together organisations from across Europe to speak with a common voice: overfishing of our waters must be stopped, and solutions put in place that ensure Europe’s waters are fished sustainably. Our Fish demands that the Common Fisheries Policy be properly enforced, and Europe’s fisheries effectively governed.

Our Fish calls on all EU Member States to set annual fishing limits at sustainable limits based on scientific advice, and to ensure that their fishing fleets prove that they are fishing sustainably, through monitoring and full documentation of their catch.

http://www.ourfish.eu

Photo credit: Arco Images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

 

EU Council Must Get Real on Blue Growth

EU Council Must Get Real on Blue Growth

Brussels, 3 July 2017:-  Following publication of the EU Council conclusions on Blue Growth in the marine and maritime sector, Our Fish Campaign manager Rebecca Hubbard said: (1,2)

“Instead of making grandiose claims to marine sustainability, the Council of the EU’s aspirations for Blue Growth should focus on practical and achievable targets, like of ensuring that EU governments correctly implement the reformed Common Fisheries Policy”.

“Unfortunately, putting the word ‘sustainable’ 26 times in a document is no guarantee of EU member states commitment to delivering either sustainable fisheries or healthy seas”, added Hubbard. “Our Fish would prefer to see real, concrete acts by EU governments, such as setting annual fishing limits according to scientific advice and enforcement of existing fishing rules that will clear the path for real blue growth in EU waters.” (3)

“By rebuilding most of the commercial EU fish stocks just in North Atlantic waters in line with legislation, we could provide 2,052,639 tonnes of additional fish per year (enough to feed 89.2 million EU citizens), €1,565 million additional gross revenues per year, €824 million additional net profits per year, and between 20,362 and 64,092 new jobs each year. (4)

ENDS

Notes

  1. Council conclusions on Blue Growth, 26 June 2017
  2. Council Reinforces Support for Blue Growth, Politico, 26 June 2017
  3. Council conclusions on Blue Growth. Out of 26 mentions, 21 refer to development, growth or economy
  4. New Economics Foundation (2015), Managing EU fisheries in the public interest: Results from the Bio-Economic Model of European Fleets.

Contacts

Dave Walsh, Communications Advisor, dave@our.fish +34 69182676

Rebecca Hubbard, Campaign Manager, rebecca@our.fish +34 657669425

About Our Fish

Our Fish works to ensure European member states implement the Common Fisheries Policy and achieve sustainable fish stocks in European waters.

Our Fish brings together organisations from across Europe to speak with a common voice: overfishing of our waters must be stopped, and solutions put in place that ensure Europe’s waters are fished sustainably. Our Fish demands that the Common Fisheries Policy be properly enforced, and Europe’s fisheries effectively governed.

Our Fish calls on all EU Member States to set annual fishing limits at sustainable limits based on scientific advice, and to ensure that their fishing fleets prove that they are fishing sustainably, through monitoring and full documentation of their catch.

http://www.ourfish.eu