Agrifish meeting outcome angers campaign group
Outcomes at the Agrifish council meeting, held Dec. 11-13, have allowed overfishing to continue on a number of stocks in the North Sea and Atlantic, according to campaign group Our Fish.
During the annual meeting EU fisheries ministers negotiated fishing limits for more than 120 fish stocks. In its initial summary statements, the council announced that total allowable catch 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 program 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 faced in European seas is that despite a landing obligation coming into force, discarding isn’t sufficiently controlled, she said.
“When discarding isn’t controlled and top-ups are added to total allowable catches, stocks are not safe”, said Sascha Muller-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.”
During the meeting, ministers failed to recognize the Celtic Sea as a region that should be protected from overfishing, said Our Fish. The EU Council set the quotas for whiting, cod and haddock significantly above the EU commission’s proposal, including a 23% increase for haddock