Last October Our Fish joined with Seas At Risk and WeMove.EU to petition the Environment and Fisheries Ministers of the EU to deliver on their promise to end overfishing and protect our seas. Today, we joined forced with the Bulgarian Biodiversity Foundation to organise a demonstration and deliver over 173,000 signatures to Environment Ministers meeting at the EU Council in Sofia. Local activists working on plastics, nature conservation and fisheries, joined our demonstration and spoke with national news media.
The petition, signed by 1730,000 EU citizens calls on governments to act on laws already agreed upon, so that we can ensure clean and healthy seas for the future, and to end overfishing by 2020 at the latest. The petition reads:
“It’s time to stick to the commitment you made to save and protect our seas by 2020 under the EU Marine Directive. More needs to be done to end overfishing, and fish are not waste and should not be discarded. At least 30% of EU seas need to become Marine Protected Areas and further ambitious measures should be taken to achieve ecologically diverse, clean and healthy seas as prescribed by EU law.
Over 40% of fish stocks in the North-East Atlantic are still overfished, while a staggering 90% of EU fish stocks in the Mediterranean are overfished. Throughout EU waters millions of fish are still being wasted at sea, despite the EU discard ban introduced in 2014. Wildlife protection is a joke: We still only have 9% of seas in Marine Protected Areas around Europe and not 30% as recommended by scientists. Most of the existing protected areas are “Paper Parks” with only a small percentage fully protected.
We should be able to trust EU Environment and Fisheries Ministers to make decisions that support healthy oceans, thriving fisheries, and sustainable coastal communities. But they need to earn our trust, and right now, we’re not convinced. Fisheries ministers must start following both scientific advice and EU law, rather than the narrow profit-based interests of a small number of fishing industry heavyweights. We have sent our message – have you sent yours? Add your voice here.
Rebecca Hubbard is the Programme Director of Our Fish