December 2017

AGRIFISH: EU Fisheries Ministers Show Unsurprising Lack of Ambition to End Overfishing

Brussels, December 13, 2017:- Despite a legal commitment to end overfishing in European waters by 2015, or progressively by 2020 at the latest, EU fisheries ministers today agreed to forgo legal, scientific and moral obligations, and continue legalised overfishing for a number of fish stocks in the North Sea and Atlantic, according to campaign group Our Fish.

During the annual AGRIFISH Council meeting, which took place between December 11th and 13, EU fisheries ministers negotiated fishing limits for more than 120 fish stocks in the North Sea and Atlantic. In its initial summary statements, the Council announced that total allowable catch (TAC) for 53 fish stocks are now in line with scientific advice (a sustainable catch rate), up from 44 in 2017, equivalent to approximately two-thirds of the stocks that have sufficient scientific data to assess maximum sustainable yield (MSY).  

“While there appears to have been some progress towards reining in overfishing, EU fisheries ministers displayed an unsurprising lack of ambition to deliver sustainable management for all EU fish stocks”, said Our Fish Programme Director Rebecca Hubbard. “These late night AGRIFISH meetings still demonstrate a dangerous culture, with EU fisheries ministers treating the law as flexible, making decisions behind closed doors, and cherry picking winners and losers, instead of ending overfishing of all fish stocks.

“With just two years left until the 2020 deadline, fisheries ministers need to invoke some political courage to act on behalf of EU citizens, and the future health of European fish stocks – not just the interests of a few big industry players”, continued Hubbard.

“One of the biggest problems we are facing in European seas, is that despite a landing obligation coming into force, discarding isn’t sufficiently controlled. When discarding isn’t controlled and top-ups are added to total allowable catches, stocks are not safe”, said Sascha Müller-Kraenner, executive director of Environmental Action Germany (Deutsche Umwelthilfe). “Four years after the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy was agreed, we would have expected increased efforts by Germany’s agriculture minister Christian Schmidt to tackle the problem of overfishing – as obliged by law.”

Celtic Sea
During the Council meeting, ministers failed to recognise the Celtic Sea as a region that should be protected from overfishing. The EU Council set the quotas for whiting, cod and haddock significantly above the EU Commission’s proposal, including an extraordinary 23% increase for Haddock.

European Bass
Despite the fact that fisheries ministers did take some responsibility to limit bycatch of European bass in industrial trawlers, the big step to safeguard the future of seabass was missed. Scientists have been advising a zero catch for the European bass for the last two years, due to a plunge in stocks since 2010, to a level where the future of bass is severely endangered.

“Although fisheries ministers have theoretically taken a first small step towards adopting stronger measures to minimise the biggest threat to bass – being caught as bycatch by trawlers – effective monitoring and control of these measures will be key to put seabass back on the path towards recovery”, said Frederieke Vlek, Netherlands Campaigner for Our Fish.  

Turbot
“For turbot, which has a combined TAC with brill, fisheries ministers have stretched fishing limits too far.  With the new TAC set at 5924 tonnes in total, fisheries ministers are putting the turbot stock at risk, and are failing to ensure the stability that the stock requires, with unclear consequences for brill”, said Vlek.

European Eel
With just 2% of stocks remaining, fisheries ministers crowned the critically endangered European eel as the biggest loser. Scientists have, for decades, recommended a zero catch, while the European Commission has call for a ban on fishing of adult eels.  

“How low do European eel stock levels need to sink to for EU fisheries Ministers to take action or responsibility”, asked Nils Höglund, Policy Officer at Coalition Clean Baltic.

“By fiercely defending the continuation of fishing for a critically endangered species, while disregarding the reformed Common Fishery Policy rules, Ministers are neither protecting the eel, or those who fish for it – instead, they are sending the message that it’s ‘ok to fish for endangered species’ and that we should teach our kids that it’s a good idea to eat that which we need to protect”.

“[Danish fisheries minister] ]Karen Ellemann and her colleagues in the Council have made a bad call for the environment and Danish fishermen by missing out on this opportunity to safeguard European eel with a ban”, said Birgitte Lesanner, head of campaigns at Greenpeace Danmark. “Unlike politicians, consumers and some supermarkets have already been doing a good job for years, by saying no to eel on their dinner tables and in their stores.”

“The only responsible thing would have been to ban all fisheries on adult and baby eels in Europe. Ensuring sustainable fisheries is not only possible, it is also a really good deal for our environment as well as for the economy of the fishermen.”

ENDS

Photo & Video

Throughout the AGRIFISH negotiations, Our Fish has been posting video & audio interviews with MEPs, NGOs, politicians and others, along with  live broadcasts and other content to “Our Fish Eye” – visit http://bit.ly/ourfisheye

Download photographs of #endoverfishing projections in Brussels

Additional information

See also:

 Celebrities Pose Naked With Fish For Fishlove Campaign To End Overfishing

Commissioner Vella statement following AgriFish conclusions

Video: Agrifish (Fisheries) Council Highlights

Petition:

Over 112,000 people have signed a new petition from Our Fish, Seas At Risk, WeMove.EU and others, calling on EU fisheries and environment ministers to implement European law, end overfishing and protect our seas. Thousands have tweeted their support and the campaign is growing, as the 2020 deadline looms.

Contacts

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

Rebecca Hubbard, Our Fish Program Director, rebecca@our.fish +34 657669425

Andrea Kuper, Ann-Kathrin Marggraf, Deutsche Umwelthilfe press office, presse@duh.de, +49 30 2400867-20

Nils Höglund, Policy Officer, Coalition Clean Baltic, nils.hoglund@ccb.se, +46708 679249

Christina Koll, Communications for Greenpeace i Danmark, christina.koll@greenpeace.org, +4528109021

Birgitte Lesanner, head of campaigns, Greenpeace Danmark, Birgitte.Lesanner@greenpeace.org, +4523951214

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 works with organisations and individuals across Europe to deliver a powerful and unwavering message: overfishing 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.

https://our.fish

Follow Our Fish on Twitter: @our_fish

Celebrities Pose Naked With Fish For Fishlove Campaign To End Overfishing

Brussels, 10 December 2017:- As Europe’s fisheries ministers head to Brussels to debate 2018 fishing quotas, actors and celebrities have called for an end to overfishing by appearing naked with fish from Europe’s seas, in the latest release of images from the striking Fishlove campaign.

Actors and celebrities including Imelda Staunton, Jessie Buckley, Bobby George, and Rula Lenska have posed with fish species to highlight the ongoing disaster of overfishing and the urgent need for the EU to follow scientific advice on quotas. Actress and director Florence Keith-Roach has been photographed with a European eel, which has become virtually extinct through overfishing and the use of hydropower.

The portraits were published by the UK’s Sunday Times on December 10th, and are now available for broader publication (view image previews here; for usage and access to high resolution, contact Nicholas Rohl).   

Fish Love: Imelda Staunton with Blonde Ray

“It breaks my heart to think about what we are doing to our seas through overfishing, especially when you realise how easy the solution is”, said award-winning British actress Imelda Staunton, Oscar nominee and Harry Potter star, posing with a blonde ray, one example of a species that is caught and discarded as bycatch. “All it needs is for our politicians to have the courage to follow the scientific advice, and our seas will spring back to health and life for the benefit of all.”

Fisheries ministers are also set to discuss a ban on fishing for adult eels – listed as critically endangered by the IUCN  – in European waters during the Brussels council meeting. With less than 2% of its original population left, European eel populations have undergone such a dramatic decline that scientists have called for a complete ban for all fisheries and to reduce all human induced mortality to zero. There is only one stock of European eel on the planet – the fish all start and end their lives in the same place, the Sargasso Sea in the south west corner of the north Atlantic.

Fish Love: Florence Keith Roach with European Eel

“98.4% of the European eel population is already GONE. Continuing to fish for them is like hunting pandas” said actress Florence Keith-Roach. “EU member states must help save this species from extinction by supporting a ban on eel fishing in European seas.”

“European countries have the power to end overfishing – and with just two years left until the 2020 deadline, what’s needed is political will to act on behalf of EU citizens”, said Rebecca Hubbard, Program Director for Our Fish. “The benefits of ending overfishing are already known and accepted – sustainable fishing means healthier fish stocks, more jobs and profit for fishers, and a healthier marine environment. It’s high time that European fisheries ministers start representing all EU citizens, not just the interests of a few big industry players, and start following the laws they have already signed up to.”

“Ministers have for years set fishing quotas too far from scientific advice and not in line with EU agreed law”, said Nils Höglund, Policy Officer for Coalition Clean Baltic. “The eel has been sidelined and slowly disappearing in front of our eyes for decades, although scientist have spent 17 years calling for eel mortality to be as close to zero as possible. We fish and eat a critically endangered species – 98% of which are gone – but lack the stomach to discuss what we we have done to the eel. The issue of overfishing on the EU Council’s table on December 11th. Ministers should be guided by the agreed principles of ending overfishing; one of their decisions is easy: take the European eel off the table and leave it in the water!”

Fish Love: Bobby George with Wolf Fish

Petition:

EU fisheries ministers need to take urgent action now if they are to achieve ecologically diverse, clean and healthy seas as they promised by 2020. This must include ending overfishing and protecting at least 30% of our seas.  Environment and Fisheries Ministers are meeting in December and we need them to get the clear message that this has to change – 112,000 people have already sent that message! Send yours now

ENDS

IMPORTANT CREDIT INFORMATION

All images MUST be credited with @Fishlove/Jillian Edelstein, fishlove.co.uk

All images MUST carry the following caption:

Fishlove portraits expose the naked truth – the EU needs to deliver on its promise to end overfishing of all fish stocks. #EndOverfishing @fishlove2020

Contacts

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

Rebecca Hubbard, Program Director, rebecca@our.fish +34 657669425

Nicholas Rohl, Fishlove, nicky@fishlove.co.uk, +44 7941 492 305

 

About Fishlove

Fish LoveFishlove was set up in 2009 by Nicholas Röhl, co-owner of MOSHIMO, and actress Greta Scacchi to raise awareness of the unsustainable fishing practices that are destroying the earth’s marine ecosystem.

Since then, the Fishlove images have succeeded in bringing the subject of over-fishing to the front covers and pages of the world’s media many times over. It is a visual petition of amazing people, including Sir Ben Kingsley, Sir Michael Gambon, Sir Richard Branson, Melanie Laurent, Fiona Shaw, Terry Gilliam, Kenzo, Dame Judi Dench, Emilia Fox, Mark Rylance, Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Imelda Staunton, to save our seas.

In acknowledgment of the central role Fishlove has played in promoting fish conversation as part of the reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy in 2013, a major and influential exhibition of the portraits was held at the European Commission in Brussels at the invitation of Maria Damanaki, then EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Helena Bonham-Carter’s image with a tuna, released in 2015, is credited with having helped persuade the UK government to commit to establishing some of the largest, fully protected marine reserves on earth.

All of the fish shown in the photographs are commercially fished, although some species shown are regarded by scientists as being over-fished and threatened. Fishlove believes that the use of these fish in these photographs is justified so as to highlight what species could be lost if overfishing continues.

None of the fish depicted in the photographs have been specifically caught for the purposes of making these photographs, and would have been landed irrespective of whether these photographs were taken or not. Other than in very unusual circumstances, the fish photographed are eaten afterwards.

Fishlove is produced by MOSHIMO, an independent Japanese restaurant in Brighton co-owned by Nicholas Röhl and Karl Jones. Famous for its Fishlove campaign, the restaurant has also won a prestigious PETA award for its promotion of plant-based eating.

https://fishlove.co.uk/

Follow on:  

Twitter @fishlove2020 Instagram @fishlovecampaign Facebook @fishlovecampaign

 

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

 

Our Fish works with organisations and individuals across Europe to deliver a powerful and unwavering message: overfishing 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.

https://our.fish

Follow Our Fish on Twitter: @our_fish

 

About Coalition Clean Baltic

Coalition Clean BalticCoalition Clean baltic works to promote the protection and improvement of the environment and natural resources of the Baltic Sea Area.

CCB was established in Helsinki, in February 1990 when environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGO’s) from the countries of the Baltic Sea Region became united to co-operate in activities concerning the Baltic Sea environment. CCB is a politically independent, non-profit association and at present, is a network of 19 organizations from Belarus, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Denmark, Ukraine and Sweden. Combined, the CCB member organizations have over 850 000 members in all countries surrounding the Baltic Sea.

http://ccb.se/

Additional information

IMPORTANT CREDIT INFORMATION

All images MUST be credited with @Fishlove/Jillian Edelstein, fishlove.co.uk

 

All images MUST carry the following caption:

Fishlove portraits expose the naked truth – the EU needs to deliver on its promise to end overfishing of all fish stocks. #EndOverfishing @fishlove2020

 

Quote from Imelda Staunton

“55% of European fish stocks are still being overfished, despite a commitment – and a law – to end overfishing.”

It breaks my heart to think about what we are doing to our seas through overfishing, especially when you realise how easy the solution is. All it needs is for our politicians to have the courage to follow the scientific advice, and our seas will spring back to health and life for the benefit of all.”

Quote from Bobby George

“My religion is nature and too many fish are being taken out of the sea. I found the Wolf Fish very slippery and slimy and could hear him say ‘Please release me! Let me go!”

Quote from Jessie Buckley

“There is not plenty more fish left in the sea! We all need to find our voice to stop the greedy few from exploiting our sea to extinction. This is why I did my Fishlove portrait with a sturgeon.”

Quote from Florence Keith-Roach

98.4% of the European eel population is already GONE. Continuing to fish for them  is like hunting pandas!

Quote from Rula Lenska

“I did a Fishlove portrait with a brill because I’m frustrated that we’re not moving fast enough to conserve fish stocks. Ending overfishing is a win for everyone… and it’s so easy to achieve: even the Americans are doing it! Holding a cold fish to my bare chest took a lot of nerves, but was also huge fun and strangely satisfying because I think it will make a difference!”

Our Fish Comment on Norway-EU agreement on fishing limits for shared stocks in 2018

Our Fish Comment on Norway-EU agreement on fishing limits for shared stocks in 2018

Brussels, 6 December 2017:- Responding to the release of the EU-Norway agreement on fishing limits for shared stocks in 2018, the Our Fish campaign has harshly criticised the agreement’s allowance of continued overfishing in the North Sea and Skagerrak, and that illegal discarding behaviour will be rewarded with extra quota allowances.

“It is outrageous that the EU is again subjecting the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat to legalised overfishing, like some sort of horrible Groundhog Day for fish stocks”, said Our Fish Programme Director Rebecca Hubbard. “The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for Cod in the Skagerrak has been set at unbelievable 88.17% above scientific advice for wanted catch, at 7,995 tonnes.”

“This figure includes quota top-up to take into account increased landings, despite the EU being aware that there is likely widespread non-compliance with the discard ban, due to inadequate monitoring and control. This situation clearly amounts  to willful double-overfishing by the EU and cannot be excused.”

“Whiting in both the Kattegat and Skagerrak will again be subject to overfishing with a TAC set 510% above scientific advice for wanted catch (1,050 tonnes). The iconic North Sea cod, which recently received Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, will be fished 45% above what scientists recommend (if non-compliance with the discard ban continues) as a sustainable catch, despite only recently coming back from the brink of commercial collapse (TAC 43,156 tonnes). Whiting in the North Sea region was also approved for overfishing with a TAC of 99% higher than scientific advice for ‘wanted catch’ (at 22,057 tonnes).”

“Our Fish finds it disturbing that while Norway again stated its concerns regarding the lack of technical measures and control of the discard ban by the EU – increasing its call for action to urgent – in reality the EU has done little to resolve the situation, and has even prevented Norway from attending meetings with the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA)” (See 12.3.6-8)

“As a result of EU countries failing to implement advice on proven monitoring and enforcement measures, such as remote electronic monitoring, it is highly possible that millions of baby North Sea cod, equating to a huge 33% of the catch, will be illegally discarded next year, undermining knowledge of total catch quantities, and threatening MSC certification and the ability of the valuable fishery to rapidly regenerate.“

“The EU also appears to have used its negotiations with Norway on shared stock fishing limits for 2018 to start wheeling out its watered-down ideal of the North Sea Multi-Annual Plan, even though it is still in trialogue. The European Commission and Council seem to be strong-arming the Parliament into dramatically lowering targets to end overfishing of all species, undermining its ability to deliver sustainable fisheries management.” (See 5.16.2 of the Norway-EU agreement – under Long-term management strategies), added Hubbard.

“The EU-Norway negotiations have left the door open to overfishing North Sea cod and North Sea whiting”, said Our Fish Netherlands Campaigner Frederieke Vlek. “In particular, North Sea Whiting will fall under the landing obligation and may put restrictions on Dutch industrial fisheries, as it is a so-called choke species. It is however not the fishery that needs to be saved from restrictions, but the fish that needs to be saved from overfishing. By setting such a high TAC for this species, the EU has proven that there is still more political appetite for unselective fisheries with high rates of unwanted catch, than for ending discards and starting effective management for vulnerable  bycatch species.”

“The distinct lack of transparency around the EU-Norway negotiations on shared fish stocks makes detailed assessments of the agreement difficult. In 2018, the EU must provide civil society with the same access industry already benefits from, and it must release all scientific and socio-economic data used to negotiate the fishing limits, in advance”, concluded Hubbard

The Norway-EU fisheries agreement will go to the EU Agrifish Council meeting on 11-12 December for approval by the Council and Commission.

Contacts

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

Rebecca Hubbard, Program Director, rebecca@our.fish +34 657669425

Frederieke Vlek, Netherlands Campaigner, frederieke@our.fish +31 625031004

Follow Our Fish on Twitter: @our_fish

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 works with organisations and individuals across Europe to deliver a powerful and unwavering message: overfishing 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.

https://our.fish