European Commission kick-starts multi-stakeholder cooperation to decarbonise sector and achieve 2050 climate goals
Brussels, 16 June 2023:– Today, on the occasion of the European Commission’s high-level conference on an energy transition initiative for EU fisheries, blue NGOs Oceana, ClientEarth and Our Fish are calling on the Commission and on fisheries stakeholders to set ambitious targets to achieve resilient and carbon-neutral fishing by 2050.
Deputy Vice President at Oceana in Europe, Vera Coelho, said: “The energy transition initiative and related Partnership are an unprecedented opportunity to make progress in ensuring the fisheries sector plays its part in helping to resolve the greatest environmental challenge of our time – climate change.”
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest scientific message is clear: all sectors must drastically cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Fisheries’ dependence on fossil fuels and their economic vulnerability to spikes in energy prices highlight the need to accelerate measures to reduce this dependence and move towards clean energy. To this end, the European Commission is initiating a multi-stakeholder partnership (the so-called “Energy Transition Partnership”), and developing a roadmap concerning its energy transition initiative for EU fisheries, launched in February.
“To be effective in practise, the roadmap resulting from this Partnership must have substance in terms of tackling all the climate impacts of fishing. Concretely, this means reducing direct fuel emissions; protecting blue carbon, including sensitive carbon-rich habitats, from physical disturbance by bottom-towed fishing gear; and protecting fish from unselective, intensive fishing. No single party can go it alone – it requires commitment from all involved,” added Coelho.
In addition to getting the fishing sector to cut its direct emissions and protect blue carbon, the European Commission must ensure that Member States better implement the Common Fisheries Policy and prioritise allocation of fishing opportunities to less climate-impactful fleets, including those that use more selective, less energy-intensive, and less habitat-damaging techniques. Finally, the Commission must provide necessary guidance and funding support to accompany fishers in this transition.
Head of ClientEarth Europe, Adam Weiss, said: “We cannot successfully achieve the energy transition if we keep subsidising the use of fossil fuels – this is a no brainer. It is time to get rid of fuel tax exemptions in general, and for the fishing sector in particular, and use the money to aid the transition towards low carbon and low-impact fishing in Europe. To achieve this transition, we need to support small-scale fishers who are the most vulnerable to change, but who are not currently the main beneficiaries of public funding for the sector.”
Oceana estimates the carbon footprint of EU fisheries at over 6 million tons of CO2 per year, on average – the equivalent of driving around the planet nearly 700,000 times. Today’s high-level conference will bring together stakeholders from across sectors – from fisheries and aquaculture, European institutions, research, financial institutes, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – to kick-start the Energy Transition Partnership.
“This EU energy transition is an opportunity for EU countries to account for the full ecological and climate impacts of fishing, and ensure that the EU is leading the world in transitioning to low-impact and low carbon fishing,” said Rebecca Hubbard, Our Fish Program Director.
Diane Vandesmet, ClientEarth Senior Communications Officer, Dvandesmet@clientearth.org, +32 493 412 289
Dave Walsh, Our Fish Communications Advisor, firstname.lastname@example.org, +34 691 826 764