AGRIFISH: Will EU Leaders Make Peace With Nature By Ending Overfishing?


Joint NGO media briefing, 14 December 2020: Note poor audio for first 2:40

Brussels, 15 December 2020:- As the AGRIFISH Council meeting opens this morning, the Our Fish campaign is calling on the EU to “make peace with nature” and to demonstrate leadership in ocean governance by setting fishing limits in line with scientific advice and ending overfishing in 2021 [1].

Fishing limits will be set during this week’s AGRIFISH for approximately 30 North East Atlantic and deep sea fish populations, which are exclusively fished by EU member states – approximately 25% of all stocks accessed by the EU. The EU will therefore bear sole responsibility for any quotas set above scientific advice [2].

A recent Our Fish analysis of 20 years of the EU-Norway Agreement on shared stocks shows that on average, the EU, Norway and UK have exceeded scientific advice on fishing quotas by an average of 11% [3]. This analysis further shows that the fish populations of most interest to the EU and UK are more heavily overfished than those of interest to Norway, undermining any EU argument that Norway is primarily to blame for overfishing.

“This week the EU has an opportunity to demonstrate that it is committed to ending the war on nature, by ending overfishing of EU fish populations”, said Our Fish Programme Director Rebecca Hubbard. “To continue setting quotas above scientific advice would not only worsen ocean health, it would set a bad tone for the upcoming UK and Norway negotiations for shared stocks and undermine the EU’s work on global ocean governance and climate action”, she added.

In his December 2nd State of the Planet speech, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that “making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century” [4]. EU First Vice President Frans Timmermans echoed this during the opening of the EU International Ocean Governance forum yesterday, adding that without a “healthy ocean, we cannot have a healthy planet” [5].

“There is no time left for words without action”, concluded Hubbard. “This AGRIFISH meeting is a clear litmus test for how committed EU leaders are to the Green Deal and making peace with nature – will they walk the walk or are they just full of hot air?”


Ocean Uprising:

A heroic herring hero swims through the ocean, evading voracious cod, dolphins and massive industrial trawlers in “Ocean Uprising”, an online game released by the Our Fish campaign, ahead of the EU AGRIFISH Council negotiations on North East Atlantic fish stocks.

Game players are invited to sign a petition addressed to the European Commission, EU Council and EU Member states calling for an end to destructive overfishing in order to build ocean resilience in response to the climate and nature crisis, and to support a just transition to ecosystem-based fisheries management.

Press release:

Play the game:


See also:

Blue Implosion – How EU Failure To Enforce Fish Discard Ban Could Drive Fisheries Management System To Collapse

A new paper, The Unintended Impact Of The European Discard Ban, has found that an increase in annual EU fishing quotas of up to 50% was applied to ‘support’ the implementation of the Landing Obligation (LO) – the rule to reduce fish waste – in EU waters in 2020, despite widespread failure to enforce the rule and the continued discarding of fish



Dave Walsh, Our Fish Communications Advisor,, +34 691 826 764


[1] Agriculture and Fisheries Council, 15-16 December 2020

[2] Commission proposes fishing opportunities in the Atlantic and North Sea for 2021

[3] Briefing: Ending the Blame Game Carousel: Norway, the EU and UK Have All Been Overfishing for 20 Years: Agreed TACs compared to ICES scientific advice in the EU-Norway Agreement

Full analysis:

[4] December 2nd, 2020: The UN Secretary-General speaks

on the state of the planet

“On 2 December at Columbia University, the UN Secretary-General delivered a landmark speech on the state of the planet, setting the stage for dramatically scaled-up ambition on climate change over the coming year”

[5] EU International Ocean Governance Forum 2020 – December 14-16, 2020 – Virtual event

About Our Fish

Our Fish is working to end overfishing and restore a healthy ocean ecosystem. By collaborating with others, and deploying robust evidence, we are calling for an end to overfishing as a critical and significant action to address the biodiversity and climate crisis.