EU Fisheries Ministers Blow Chance to End Overfishing


Ocean Avengers Demand EU Prime Ministers End Overfishing

EU Fisheries Ministers Blow Chance to End Overfishing 

Brussels, December 18, 2019:- As the EU AGRIFISH Council meeting closed in Brussels this morning following all-night negotiations, the Our Fish campaign blasted EU fisheries ministers for not only failing to meet their own legal deadline for ending overfishing by 2020, but refusing to pull their weight to address the climate and biodiversity crises, after they agreed to continue overfishing.

“They’re just not getting it. Demonstrating a shocking ignorance of the global biodiversity and climate crisis, the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers refused to follow scientific advice, instead greenlighting another year of overfishing – missing both their own deadline for ending overfishing by 2020 and squandering a prime opportunity for EU leadership on decisive emergency climate action,” said Our Fish Programme Director Rebecca Hubbard.

“The EU committed to ending overfishing back in 2013, yet fisheries ministers have spent six years kicking the can down the road. Today’s appalling outcome demonstrates that they cannot be entrusted with restoring healthy ocean ecosystems and that they are incapable of doing their bit to achieve EU ambitions for combating climate change,” she continued. “Ending overfishing would be a rapid, achievable act that would bolster the health of the ocean in the face of the climate crisis, securing futures for coastal communities as well as being an affirmative firm response to calls from EU citizens for climate action.”

Today’s retrograde decision by EU fisheries ministers to continue overfishing comes in sharp contrast to last week’s European Green Deal announcement, the EU member state agreement for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and the conclusion of COP25, where the crucial role of the ocean in regulating climate was recognised.

Main points from the AGRIFISH Council Meeting

  • A preliminary assessment of available information from this week’s meeting suggests that a number of all total allowable catches (TACs) have been set above scientific advice, including several vulnerable cod stocks such as west of Scotland and North Sea and southern hake.
  • Fisheries ministers appear to be continuing to prioritise economically important fish over the plight of vulnerable or non-profitable species.
  • For vulnerable species such as Cod in the Celtic Sea and West of Scotland, fisheries ministers not only endorsed further overfishing of collapsed stocks, they have refused to introduce monitoring at sea that would ensure the industry ends illegal discards.
  • Denmark has worked for a step in the right direction, by pursuing effective monitoring and improved selectivity in the Kattegat. This is a good step but considering the scale of the emergency, it’s far from enough.

Over 500,000 Europeans have signed petitions to fisheries ministers to deliver on their commitment under the EU common fisheries policy to end overfishing by 2020 [1]. Over 1,800 individual messages written by EU citizens were presented to the EU Council of Prime Ministers via the executive vice-president Timmermans and the Finnish Presidency of the EU council last Thursday, calling for the EU to deliver decisive emergency climate action and follow the science to end overfishing [2].

All EU member states have signed up to end overfishing by 2020 through numerous regional and international forums; EU Common Fisheries Policy [3], UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.4 [4], and most recently in the EU Council Conclusions on Oceans and Seas [5].

“Ending overfishing is critical to acting on the climate emergency. In the coming weeks and months we will work with the new Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius to achieve this,” concluded Hubbard.


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


[1] Petitions:

Our Fish: Save Our Fish

We Move: Save Our Seas Illegale Fisch-Rückwürfe stoppen! Helft unserem Fisch!

[2] Ocean Avengers Deliver Ultimatum to EU Prime Ministers: End Overfishing

[3] EU 2013. Common Fisheries Policy. REGULATION (EU) No 1380/2013 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 11 December 2013 on the Common Fisheries Policy, amending Council Regulations (EC) No 1954/2003 and (EC) No 1224/2009 and repealing Council Regulations (EC) No 2371/2002 and (EC) No 639/2004 and Council Decision 2004/585/EC

[4] UN SDG 14.4: By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics.

[5] EU Council conclusions on Oceans and Seas, General Secretariat of the Council, 13845/19.


About Our Fish

Our Fish works to ensure European member states implement the Common Fisheries Policy and achieve sustainable fish stocks in European waters.

Our Fish works with organisations and individuals across Europe to deliver a powerful and unwavering message: overfishing must be stopped, and solutions put in place that ensure Europe’s waters are fished sustainably. Our Fish demands that the Common Fisheries Policy be properly enforced, and Europe’s fisheries effectively governed.

Our Fish calls on all EU Member States to set annual fishing limits at sustainable limits based on scientific advice, and to ensure that their fishing fleets prove that they are fishing sustainably, through monitoring and full documentation of their catch.


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