Everybody in the EU, and all around the globe, depends on the ocean: it generates every second breath we take; has absorbed 90 percent of the excess heat generated in the last 50 years and has sequestered up to thirty percent of all carbon emissions. Yet this role of supporting life on the planet and regulating the climate has been overlooked. The 2030 Climate Target Plan consultation is an example of this, as it fails to mention the impact from destructive fishing or the contribution that fish populations make to ensuring a healthy ocean ecosystem. It’s time that the EU woke up to the crucial role this ecosystem plays, by developing corresponding targets and ending destructive overfishing.
We should not be overlooking the ocean’s capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change, we should be celebrating it. The 2019 IPBES report identified fishing as the largest threat to marine biodiversity and ecosystem services. Ending overfishing is a clear, achievable action that would have a significant, far-reaching, positive impact on the ocean and the climate – and our lives.
Here’s six policies and actions that the EU could take to include fish and the fishing industry in its Climate Target Plan
- End overfishing, increase fish biomass and sequestration of CO2 by marine life: the role of fish in the biological pump of the ocean is critical.
- Cut overcapacity of the fishing fleet; fewer vessels produce fewer emissions (the fishing industry produces one percent of CO2 emissions globally).
- Prioritise access to fishing resources for those who have less impact on the marine ecosystem.
- End fuel subsidies and other direct and indirect subsidies that worsen CO2 emissions and perpetuate overfishing and overcapacity of the fishing fleet.
- Include ending overfishing as an achievable action in states’ Nationally Determined Contributions; prioritise the development of other ocean–focused NDCs as well.
The 2030 Climate Target Plan consultation for public submissions closes at midnight on Tuesday 23 June.
Rebecca Hubbard is the Programme Director of Our Fish