May 2018

Global Ocean Leaders Urge Commissioner Vella To End EU Overfishing

Fish Love: Florence Keith Roach with European Eel

Brussels, 23 May 2018:- Nine global ocean conservation leaders have urged the European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, to use his “power, position, and responsibility” to end destructive and wasteful EU overfishing, ahead of the 2020 Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) deadline, and before his mandate expires in 2019.

In a letter received by  Commissioner Vella on May 22, the nine ocean advocates expressed support for the Commissioner in his efforts to end overfishing in European waters, while acknowledging the challenges in overcoming the current status quo – where many stocks continue to be fished above scientific advice.

The letter’s signatories warn that the EU’s reputation as a global fisheries leader on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) has generated an expectation that the EU will get its own house in order – and that correspondingly, failure to end EU overfishing will undermine the success of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy.

“We strongly encourage you to seize the opportunity of the coming months to finally bring the destructive and wasteful act of EU overfishing to an end, in keeping with the CFP deadline”, reads the letter, signed by Kristian Parker of the Oak Foundation, Jane Lubchenco of Oregon State University, Rashid Sumaila of UBC Institute for the Oceans & Fisheries, Torsten Thiele of the Global Ocean Trust, Ayana Elizabeth Johnson of Ocean Collectiv, Pascal Lamy of the Jacques Delors Institute, Enric Sala of the National Geographic Society, Kristina Gjerde of the IUCN Global Marine & Polar Program and photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

“However, battling both the short-term interests and the lack of political will across several member states has delayed ending overfishing of EU stocks. Where science-based fishing limits have been set, healthier fish stocks have flourished, underscoring the power of reform. However, a recent analysis showed that in December 2017, contrary to the goals of the reform, 57 EU fishing limits were set above scientific levels. This unfortunate trend has resulted in only modest year-to-year improvements and – of grave concern to those who care deeply about fisheries – it risks failing to achieve the CFP’s goals by 2015 or 2020”, continues the letter.

“With the 2020 CFP deadline to end overfishing coming up fast, EU fisheries ministers are sailing perilously close to the wind”, said Our Fish Programme Director Rebecca Hubbard. “Instead of safely reaching sustainable 2020 destination, the EU is in danger of floundering far from shore, thanks to myopic, short-term decision-making that favours the demands of big fishing industry players, over the long term health of fisheries. Commissioner Vella has taken the lead on setting a course towards sustainable EU fisheries, now fisheries ministers must join him in ending Europe’s addiction to overfishing.”

In 2017, an update of the World Bank’s Sunken Billions report estimated that better

management of global fisheries would unlock $83 (€70) billion in additional revenues worldwide. In the EU, millions of tonnes of fish have been discarded at sea [1], and over 40% of Atlantic fish stocks and over 90% of Mediterranean stocks are now overfished [2]. Researchers estimate that by ending overfishing, the EU could increase the amount of fish caught by up to 2 million tonnes per year, which could deliver an increase in net profits in the fishing and processing sectors by €965 million/year and an extra 92,000 jobs [3].

The letter’s authors state that “we stand ready to support faithful implementation of the CFP, for the sake of coastal communities, the ocean and future generations whose economies, livelihoods, culture and food security depend on our generation’s actions”.

The letter can be downloaded from the Our Fish website here.

Notes:

  • EU member state ministers with responsibility for fisheries will decide on fishing limits four times in the course of the autumn:
  1. In October 2018 for Baltic Sea fish stocks;
  2. In November 2018 for Deep Sea fish stocks;
  3. In November 2018 for a number of shared fish stocks with Norway; and
  4. In December 2018 for Atlantic and the North Sea
  • Deep Sea fishing limits are set every second year, so this year’s agreement will be the last before the Common Fisheries Policy target of reaching sustainable fishing limits by 2020 is reached.
  • The ban on discards (Landing Obligation) is of particular importance in 2018, as January 2019 signifies when it should be fully phased in. Key decisions on improving monitoring and control to address widespread non-compliance include:
    • Updating of Specific Control Inspection Programs for the Baltic, North Sea, Western Waters and Mediterranean regions, by the Commission and EU member states, voting in September 2018;
    • Review of the Control Regulation, proposal from Commission end of May, followed by a trilogue process.

[1] Based on figures from: European Commission, (2011). COMMISSION STAFF WORKING PAPER IMPACT ASSESSMENT Accompanying the document Commission proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Common Fisheries Policy [repealing Regulation (EC) N° 2371/2002]. Viewed at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/registre/docs_autres_institutions/commission_europeenne/sec/2011/0891/COM_SEC(2011)0891_EN.pdf

[2] Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) – Monitoring the performance of the Common Fisheries Policy (STECF-Adhoc-18-01). Viewed at: https://stecf.jrc.ec.europa.eu/documents/43805/2092142/STECF+18-01+adhoc+-+CFP+Monitoring+2018.pdf

[3] Oceana (2017), Healthy Oceans Are Good For Business. Viewed at: http://eu.oceana.org/en/publications/reports/healthy-fisheries-are-good-business

Contacts

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

Rebecca Hubbard, Our Fish Program Director, 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 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

Why is Deadpool 2’s Josh Brolin naked, holding a fish?

Photo caption: Josh Brolin supports the Our Fish campaign to end European overfishing by posing with a fish for Fishlove © Fishlove/Alan Gelati

London 14 May 2018:- As the Marvel superhero movie Deadpool 2 opens in cinemas around the world, why is Hollywood star Josh Brolin, who plays Nathan Summers/Cable, posing naked with a fish on his Instagram account?

Brolin’s mysterious post, which has attracted more than 100,000 likes, shows the actor holding a sustainably caught wahoo (Ono) from Hawaii, as part of the Fishlove photography project, which raises awareness of unsustainable fishing practices that are destroying the earth’s marine ecosystem.

Brolin’s image is one of many to come in 2018, from Fishlove, in partnership with Our Fish, which campaigns to ensure European governments achieve sustainable fish stocks in European waters.

“The series we’re putting together now will feature some of the most recognisable faces on the planet,” says Nicholas Röhl, co-founder of Fishlove with Greta Scacchi, who has recently returned from his first trip to Los Angeles. “Fishlove is a visual petition by actors and well-known personalities who want overfishing to end,” he says.

Fishlove has already attracted the support of 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 – all of whom have posed with fish, in a call to save our seas from overexploitation.

“The Year 2020 sounds like a dystopian Hollywood movie – yet this is the deadline set by the EU for ending overfishing of fish stocks and we are now hurtling towards it, with our governments asleep at the wheel”,said Our Fish Programme Director Rebecca Hubbard. “Overfishing and climate change are putting fish stocks under pressure, and threatening the health of ocean ecosystems and food security.”

“Even though a ban on discarding fish is being phased in, behaviour at sea hasn’t changed: there are still tens of thousands of tonnes of fish being thrown overboard in European waters. Every EU country must enforce the discard ban and put an end to illegal and unreported discarding, and end overfishing. Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain and the UK are the most important players and must work together to reach European and international targets – and return European fisheries to a healthy state.”

A petition to end overfishing and discarding, and protect European marine environments, has over 179,000 signatures. View the petition

Images

Preview image is available here. For a high resolution image, contact Nicholas Rohl, Fishlove, nicky@fishlove.co.uk

Photographer AND caption MUST be added to any usage of this image: 

Photo caption: Josh Brolin supports the Our Fish campaign to end European overfishing by posing with a fish for Fishlove © Fishlove/Alan Gelati

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

Fishlove 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. The fish in this image was sourced from Santa Monica Seafood

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 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

EU Eel Evaluation Roadmap: NGO submission

Evaluation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1100/2007 of 18 September 2007 establishing measures for the recovery of the stock of European eel.

“We strongly support the upcoming evaluation and welcome this opportunity to provide feedback on the effectiveness and implementation of the EU Eel Regulation.”

The population of European eel has declined dramatically since the 1970s*. Recruitment of juvenile eels remains extremely low despite the joint EU management framework, which has now been in place for 10 years. The state of European eel remains critical and further action is urgently needed.

Earlier evaluations indicate that the current EU management framework is insufficient and show that implementation of the regulation and of the national eel management plans has been delayed, piecemeal and focused on efforts with little discernible impact on the recovery of the European eel population. Notably, it has been very difficult to measure progress against the main target – at least 40% escapement of silver eels. While a strong focus of resources has been placed on restocking of eel, there is no evidence that this effectively contributes to future recruitment. Most countries maintain a directed fishery, and illegal catches and trafficking of glass eels remain a major problem.

Habitat loss and deteriorating water quality also affect eel. The latest assessment of the implementation of the Water Framework Directive shows poor status for around 60% of surface water bodies and a massive presence of migration barriers**.

Since the Eel Regulation came into force, some major changes in related EU policies have taken place. Notably, the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy resulted in the new commitment to restoring the biomass of all harvested fish stocks above levels capable of producing Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). MSY is also used as a key criterion to assess Good Environmental Status under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. We are therefore particularly pleased to see the evaluation’s focus on coherence with other EU legislation, as well as with international instruments.

We ask the European Commission to ensure that this evaluation of the effectiveness and coherence of the measures taken to aid the recovery of European eel assesses all aspects of eel management and potential options for the future, including:

  • The objective of 40% escapement of silver eels and whether it is in coherence with the precautionary principle and the MSY objective
  • The effectiveness of fisheries closures/restrictions for all life stages
  • The targets and indicators set in the national eel management plans, as well as the national monitoring to measure progress
  • Reporting and data collection obligations
  • Restocking practices and the associated overall effectiveness in terms of conservation
  • Progress on measures to address other major anthropogenic impacts on eel, primarily habitat restoration and removal of migration barriers
  • The use of public funds (EMFF) and whether it has aided eel recovery
  • The substantial illegal trade of European eel outside of and inside the EU and its effect on eel conservation
  • Control and enforcement issues related to the entire chain, from glass eel fisheries to consumption of eel products, including more coordinated action between the Member States’ enforcement agencies
  • The implementation of EU commitments within the framework of CMS and CITES

Bearing all of the above in mind, we look forward to a thorough evaluation of all aspects of the European eel management framework, and to future opportunities to engage with this process.

It is our hope that through implementation of urgent measures and better management and protection in the future, we can enable long-term recovery and sustainable exploitation of European eel, but we note that we are a very long way from there today. 

Submitted by: ClientEarth, European Anglers Alliance, FishSec, Good Fish Foundation, Our Fish, Pew Charitable Trusts, Seas At Risk and WWF

Download as PDF: Eel Evaluation Roadmap NGO submission

*www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2017/2017/ele.2737.nea.pdf
**www.eea.europa.eu/themes/water/status-and-monitoring/state-of-surface-waters

 

 

Background: EU begins evaluation of eel management

On 13 April 2018, the European Commission released a Roadmap for the upcoming evaluation of the Eel Regulation. The evaluation is set to help the Commission decide whether to review the regulation or focus on improving implementation. Stakeholders are invited to provide feedback on issues related to the implementation of the Eel Regulation until 11 May 2018, and then in a second consultation in October.

The so called Evaluation and Fitness Check Roadmap of Council Regulation (EC) No 1100/2007 of 18 September 2007 establishing measures for the recovery of the stock of European eel provides background on the issue and explains the process and focus for the evaluation. The intention is to inform stakeholders and enable them to participate effectively in the process as well as provide views and possible solutions for better eel management. It is the first step of a process that may take several years.

The evaluation process started in Spring 2018, with a final report expected in the first quarter of 2019. It consists of three parts: an external evaluation of the management framework, an ICES assessment of the biological aspects and a Commission review of the use of public funds to support implementation. The first public feedback period (open 13 April to 11 May) is intended to inform the initial phase of the evaluation, whereas the second public consultation in October will give stakeholders a chance to reflect on some of the initial results and provide views on potential measures.

First evaluation found significant delays

This will be the second EU evaluation since the Eel Regulation came into force in September 2007. The previous evaluation took place after the first national progress reports were submitted in 2012 and a report was presented to the Council and European Parliament in 2014 (in line with requirements in the regulation (Art. 9.2)).

The first evaluation found that the status of the European eel remained critical and in need of urgent action and that the implementation of the Eel Regulation had suffered significant delays. It also found that most of the management measures taken were related to fisheries, whereas other measures such as improving habitats or controlling predators and parasites had been postponed or only partially implemented. Altogether, it was difficult to assess progress towards the main objective of increasing silver eel escapement due to all the delays and the long timeframes involved. It also highlighted that few countries had reached their restocking targets and there was concern that restocking practices may not contribute to increased escapement but instead sustained the fishing for eel.

This second evaluation is therefore crucial in terms of assessing the effects of management measures, as more time has passed. Also, since the previous Commission report, the reformed CFP (Regulation (EU) 1380/2013) objective of Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) has been applied to stock management.

Effectiveness and coherence in focus

The emphasis of this evaluation is on the effectiveness and coherence of the measures taken to aid the recovery of European eel, in particular through the national Eel Management Plans. A number of areas are listed, including the design and implementation of restocking efforts, the management of glass eel fisheries, enforcement and monitoring both in marine and inland waters, coherence with other EU legislation and international instruments, including CITES and CMS, as well as the use of public money from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to aid implementation.

The Commission is now awaiting Member State reports on the use of EMFF funds, implementation of the Water Framework Directive and, in particular, the national eel management plans in order to gather the information needed for the external and internal evaluations. ICES has put out an extended data call on eel to support its work.

When the evaluation report is finalised in early 2019, the Commission will make its decision on the way forward, probably including an Impact Assessment of potential measures. If the regulation needs to be revised, this is a longer process with proposals for amendments that will need to be discussed and agreed between the Council and the European Parliament. It could take years, particularly considering that 2019 is the year of European Parliament elections, the appointment of a new European Commission and Brexit.

Meanwhile, European eel remains listed as Critically Endangered by IUCN, trade is restricted under CITES Annex II and efforts are ongoing to support its conservation under the Convention on the conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). European eel is still in need of urgent actions to support its recovery.

A Commission attempt last year to close all EU fishing of adult eels – arguably the most rapid way to aid increased reproduction – was not supported by the Member States. Instead, a joint Declaration on strengthening the recovery for European eel was agreed, committing Member States to step up their actions, including a review of current restocking practices and fighting illegal fishing and trade. In the context of fishing opportunities for 2018, a 3-month ban on fishing for European eel of 12 cm or more is to be implemented by the Member States between 1 September 2018 and 31 January 2019. .

Across the wide geographical spread of European eel, responses to its plight have been slow, patchy and largely ineffective. The first reports of substantial decline came already in the 1970s, but it took over three decades to get agreement on a management framework for the European Union and a listing under CITES Annex II to restrict trade.

The European eel regulation (EC 1100/2007) was finally adopted in 2007. It is a framework regulation with an overarching objective (Art. 2.4) – 40 % escapement of silver eel biomass compared to pre-anthropogenic levels – and an agreed set of measures to use. It requires Member States to create and implement Eel Management Plans for each “eel river basin”, and to submit progress reports every third year, beginning in June 2012.

The implementation of the eel management plans has been riddled with problems, including delays, a lack of reporting, a misuse of measures to support fishing rather than conservation and a very substantial illegal trade in glass eels with countries outside of the EU. Against this background, the upcoming evaluation is incredibly important.

Photo: Actress Florence Keith-Roach “98.4% of the European eel population is already GONE. Continuing to fish for them is like hunting pandas!”

Photo credit: @Fishlove/Jillian Edelstein, fishlove.co.uk. Check out this story on the collaboration between Our Fish and Fish Love.