Ireland: Michael Creed Misses Out On Making History By Continuing To Overfish

Fishing boats in the village Union Hall, West Cork, Ireland. Dave Walsh

Fishing boats in the village Union Hall, West Cork, Ireland. Union Hall is synonymous with fresh fish.

Brussels, December 19, 2018: As the annual AGRIFISH December Council meeting closed this morning in Brussels, Irish campaigners are accusing EU fisheries ministers for agreeing to continue their decades long tradition of overfishing.

“Along with biodiversity loss and climate change, overfishing is having a devastating effect on the ocean. The ocean gives us every second breath, overfishing is taking that away.” said Mike Walker of Our Fish. “This morning’s decision once again illustrates that EU fisheries ministers are blind to reality, negotiating with nature behind closed doors in Brussels. It is time they step outside and see the destruction caused by thirty years of overfishing, and realise they missed the historic opportunity to end it.”

“This result is a massive blow to the EU’s chances of ending overfishing by 2020. It appears that short-term political interest have again been prioritised over the benefits of more sustainable and profitable fisheries. Overfishing is driving marine life to the brink contributing to a 70 percent drop in global seabird populations over the last 50 years [1]. We need urgent action and for our government to implement the law. Instead there has been no progress just a year out from the final deadline,” said Fintan Kelly of BirdWatch Ireland.

The 2013 reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy included a commitment to end overfishing by 2015, or by 2020 at the latest. The latest assessment indicated that over 55 percent of North Sea and Atlantic fish stocks are still overfished – experts predict that at this rate, the EU will not meet the 2020 deadline [2], highlighting that significant progress would need to be made at this years negotiations. The introduction of the ban on discarding fish at sea, or throwing unwanted fish back (called the landing obligation), has been hindered by a lack of political will and reluctance from the fishing industry to change their behaviour [3].

Both overfishing and discarding fish are short-sighted practices which deplete fish stocks and result in negative environmental and socio-economic impacts for fishermen. The CFP reform was negotiated under the Irish EU Presidency and the commitment to implement both obligations is within the Irish programme for government [4]. Despite this Minister Creed has repeatedly pushed for fishing limits to be set higher than scientifically advised [5].

For Ireland the medium term economic benefits relative to 2012-14, of rebuilding EU fish stocks to levels recommended by science could provide Ireland with an additional 200,000 tonnes of fish landings annually. This would generate an additional €270 million in earnings potentially supporting 2,200 new jobs [6].


[1] Persisting Worldwide Seabird-Fishery Competition Despite Seabird Community Decline

[2] Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) – Monitoring the performance of the Common Fisheries Policy (STECF-Adhoc-18-01). Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2018


[3] Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) – 57th Plenary Meeting Report (PLEN-18-01); Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2018

[4] Irish Government (2016) A Programme For Partnership Government

[5] No time for further delays in meeting 2020 sustainability deadline

[6] NEF (2017) A Fair Fishing Deal for Ireland – How to Manage Irish Fisheries in the Public Interest


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.

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


About BirdWatch Ireland

BirdWatch Ireland is the largest independent conservation organisation in Ireland, with over 15,000 members and supporters and a local network of over 30 branches nationwide.

BirdWatch Ireland have been working since the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy both in Ireland and the EU to ensure that the full implementation of the sustainable fisheries management including the CFP’s obligations to end overfishing by 2020 and and the implementation of the landing obligation in 2019.


Contact Details

Fintan Kelly, Policy Officer, BirdWatch Ireland


Phone: 0851295849



Mike Walker, Campaigner, Our Fish


Phone: 086 6033002


Follow Our Fish on Twitter: @our_fish