agrifish

AGRIFISH: EU Fisheries Ministers Show Unsurprising Lack of Ambition to End Overfishing

Brussels, December 13, 2017:- Despite a legal commitment to end overfishing in European waters by 2015, or progressively by 2020 at the latest, EU fisheries ministers today agreed to forgo legal, scientific and moral obligations, and continue legalised overfishing for a number of fish stocks in the North Sea and Atlantic, according to campaign group Our Fish.

During the annual AGRIFISH Council meeting, which took place between December 11th and 13, EU fisheries ministers negotiated fishing limits for more than 120 fish stocks in the North Sea and Atlantic. In its initial summary statements, the Council announced that total allowable catch (TAC) 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 Programme 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 we are facing in European seas, is that despite a landing obligation coming into force, discarding isn’t sufficiently controlled. When discarding isn’t controlled and top-ups are added to total allowable catches, stocks are not safe”, said Sascha Müller-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.”

Celtic Sea
During the Council meeting, ministers failed to recognise the Celtic Sea as a region that should be protected from overfishing. The EU Council set the quotas for whiting, cod and haddock significantly above the EU Commission’s proposal, including an extraordinary 23% increase for Haddock.

European Bass
Despite the fact that fisheries ministers did take some responsibility to limit bycatch of European bass in industrial trawlers, the big step to safeguard the future of seabass was missed. Scientists have been advising a zero catch for the European bass for the last two years, due to a plunge in stocks since 2010, to a level where the future of bass is severely endangered.

“Although fisheries ministers have theoretically taken a first small step towards adopting stronger measures to minimise the biggest threat to bass – being caught as bycatch by trawlers – effective monitoring and control of these measures will be key to put seabass back on the path towards recovery”, said Frederieke Vlek, Netherlands Campaigner for Our Fish.  

Turbot
“For turbot, which has a combined TAC with brill, fisheries ministers have stretched fishing limits too far.  With the new TAC set at 5924 tonnes in total, fisheries ministers are putting the turbot stock at risk, and are failing to ensure the stability that the stock requires, with unclear consequences for brill”, said Vlek.

European Eel
With just 2% of stocks remaining, fisheries ministers crowned the critically endangered European eel as the biggest loser. Scientists have, for decades, recommended a zero catch, while the European Commission has call for a ban on fishing of adult eels.  

“How low do European eel stock levels need to sink to for EU fisheries Ministers to take action or responsibility”, asked Nils Höglund, Policy Officer at Coalition Clean Baltic.

“By fiercely defending the continuation of fishing for a critically endangered species, while disregarding the reformed Common Fishery Policy rules, Ministers are neither protecting the eel, or those who fish for it – instead, they are sending the message that it’s ‘ok to fish for endangered species’ and that we should teach our kids that it’s a good idea to eat that which we need to protect”.

“[Danish fisheries minister] ]Karen Ellemann and her colleagues in the Council have made a bad call for the environment and Danish fishermen by missing out on this opportunity to safeguard European eel with a ban”, said Birgitte Lesanner, head of campaigns at Greenpeace Danmark. “Unlike politicians, consumers and some supermarkets have already been doing a good job for years, by saying no to eel on their dinner tables and in their stores.”

“The only responsible thing would have been to ban all fisheries on adult and baby eels in Europe. Ensuring sustainable fisheries is not only possible, it is also a really good deal for our environment as well as for the economy of the fishermen.”

ENDS

Photo & Video

Throughout the AGRIFISH negotiations, Our Fish has been posting video & audio interviews with MEPs, NGOs, politicians and others, along with  live broadcasts and other content to “Our Fish Eye” – visit http://bit.ly/ourfisheye

Download photographs of #endoverfishing projections in Brussels

Additional information

See also:

 Celebrities Pose Naked With Fish For Fishlove Campaign To End Overfishing

Commissioner Vella statement following AgriFish conclusions

Video: Agrifish (Fisheries) Council Highlights

Petition:

Over 112,000 people have signed a new petition from Our Fish, Seas At Risk, WeMove.EU and others, calling on EU fisheries and environment ministers to implement European law, end overfishing and protect our seas. Thousands have tweeted their support and the campaign is growing, as the 2020 deadline looms.

Contacts

Dave Walsh, Our Fish Communications Advisor, dave@our.fish +34 691826764

Rebecca Hubbard, Our Fish Program Director, rebecca@our.fish +34 657669425

Andrea Kuper, Ann-Kathrin Marggraf, Deutsche Umwelthilfe press office, presse@duh.de, +49 30 2400867-20

Nils Höglund, Policy Officer, Coalition Clean Baltic, nils.hoglund@ccb.se, +46708 679249

Christina Koll, Communications for Greenpeace i Danmark, christina.koll@greenpeace.org, +4528109021

Birgitte Lesanner, head of campaigns, Greenpeace Danmark, Birgitte.Lesanner@greenpeace.org, +4523951214

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.

https://our.fish

Follow Our Fish on Twitter: @our_fish

EU Fisheries Ministers’ All Night Debate Leads To Continued Baltic Overfishing of Cod

Luxembourg, 10 October 2017: Campaign organisation Our Fish this morning slammed the decision by EU fisheries ministers to set 2018 western Baltic cod quotas four times higher than cautious scientific advice during an all night AGRIFISH meeting in Luxembourg [1][2].

After hours of deliberations that continued until after 6am, EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council ministers agreed to set Total Allowable Catches (TAC) for western Baltic cod at 5,597 tonnes, four times higher than the most cautious scientific advice, despite the stock being critically overfished [3]. Eastern Baltic cod was set at 28,388 tonnes, almost four thousand tonnes higher than scientific advice [4].

“Despite staying up all night, all EU fisheries ministers accomplished is once again setting Total Allowable Catches for Baltic cod far higher than recommended by scientific advice”, said Our Fish Programme Director Rebecca Hubbard. “EU citizens would be better served by ministers who understand that quotas need to be a fraction of current levels, so that Baltic cod stocks can recover from decades of overfishing”.

“This is the fourth year in a row that the Council of EU fisheries ministers have set fishing limits for western Baltic cod significantly above scientific advice, despite the stock being severely overfished. Governments are pursuing a downward spiral of these once great fish stocks, which has serious ecological and social impacts, and goes against both EU fisheries law and public sentiment [5]”.

“It is already well established that setting fishing limits based on scientific advice will help ensure healthy fish stocks, and reap greater social and economic benefits for communities”, said Hubbard. “Yet despite this opportunity, fisheries ministers are still unwilling to follow scientific advice. With relative profits of the fishing industry at an all time high and fish stocks severely overfished, fisheries ministers are missing a perfect opportunity to secure sustainable Baltic cod stocks”, concluded Hubbard.

AGRIFISH meets again in December 2017 to discuss and decide on Total Allowable Catches for fish stocks in the North East Atlantic. Deliberations are expected to be even more laborious than for the Baltic stocks, with around 150 stocks under discussion.

ENDS

Photo

High resolution photograph of the artwork by Gijs Vanhee is available for download and use in relation to this story.

Contacts

Dave Walsh, Communications Advisor, dave@our.fish +34 691826764

Rebecca Hubbard, Program Director, rebecca@our.fish +34 657669425

Follow Our Fish on Twitter: https://twitter.com/our_fish

Notes:

For more background see 9 October 2017 press release: Agrifish: 70,000 People Join Demand to End EU overfishing as Ministers Decide Baltic limits

https://our.fish/en/2017/10/09/agrifish-70000-people-join-demand-end-eu-overfishing-ministers-decide-baltic-limits/

[1] Council agreement on 2018 catch limits in the Baltic Sea

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/10/09-baltic-sea-catch-limits-2018/

[2] The AGRIFISH meeting took place at the European Convention Center Luxembourg (ECCL)

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/agrifish/2017/10/09-10/

[3] The Council of EU fisheries ministers set 2017 fishing limits for four out of ten Baltic fish stocks above scientific advice, including a 352% increase on scientific advice for western Baltic cod, despite the fact that they were on the edge of commercial collapse.

The reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) that entered into force in 2014 aims to restore and maintain populations of fish stocks above levels capable of supporting MSY. The corresponding exploitation rate was to be achieved by 2015 where possible and by 2020 at the latest for all stocks. Following scientific advice is essential if we are to achieve this goal, end overfishing, and restore fish stocks to healthy levels.

New Economics Foundation (2017), Landing the Blame – Overfishing in the Baltic 2017. http://neweconomics.org/2016/12/landing-the-blame/

August 31, 2017: NGOs call on Baltic Governments to stop driving overfishing

https://our.fish/en/2017/08/31/ngos-call-on-baltic-governments-to-stop-driving-overfishing/

[4] Fisheries Secretariat & Seas At Risk (2017), Annex I: Comments and recommendations for Member States on the ‘Commission proposal for a Council Regulation fixing for 2018 the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks applicable in the Baltic Sea’, available at: http://www.fishsec.org/app/uploads/2017/09/170927-SAR-FISH-Council-Brief-2018-Baltic-TAC-Annex-FINAL.pdf

[5] Carpenter, G. & Esteban, A. (2015). Managing EU fisheries in the public interest. London: New Economics Foundation. http://neweconomics.org/2015/03/managing-eu-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.

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.

https://our.fish

 

Agrifish: 70,000 People Join Demand to End EU overfishing as Ministers Decide Baltic limits

Luxembourg, 9 October 2017: As more than 70,000 EU citizens signed a petition calling for an end to overfishing and protection of EU waters, an enigmatic light painting depicting cod heads and money bags formed a cordon around the Luxembourg conference venue where EU fisheries ministers will discuss 2018 Baltic Sea fishing limits, during today’s AGRIFISH meeting.

“By creating this artwork, I want to highlight the link between industry influence that is fueling overfishing, as well as the lack of transparency in the decision-making process”, said Belgian street artist Gijs Vanhee, who collaborated with the Our Fish campaign to create the image outside the European Convention Center in Luxembourg.

“In just three days, over 70,000 people from across the EU have stepped forward to tell their governments to stop overfishing and safeguard the EU’s marine environment through the proper enforcement of already existing laws”, said Rebecca Hubbard, Program Director with Our Fish. “EU citizens clearly understand that Europe’s marine resources are under pressure and expect their governments to ensure we have healthy fish stocks and coastal communities for the future”.

The Council of EU fisheries ministers set 2017 fishing limits for four out of ten Baltic fish stocks above scientific advice, including a staggering 352% increase on scientific advice for Western Baltic Cod, despite the fact that they were teetering on the edge of commercial collapse [2].

“While Denmark and Germany have been pursuing overfishing of western Baltic cod under the excuse of avoiding social and economic impacts, most of the quota flows to destructive trawlers that cause the biggest environmental impact, while reaping higher profits than lower-impact coastal fishers [2]. The reality is that Denmark and Germany can make fishing ecologically sustainable and economically fair during today’s Council meeting, by setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs) at the the most cautious end of scientific advice, and changing the way quotas are allocated within their own countries,” continued Hubbard [3].

“Western Baltic cod is in a desperate situation, with populations at their second lowest level in thirty years. To rebuild stocks to healthy levels, western Baltic cod must be given a break from overexploitation”, said Hubbard. [4] “The fishing industry has never had a better moment for reinventing itself as a sustainable industry – fuel prices are at an all time low, relative profits of the fishing industry are at an all time high, and evidence shows that the faster we end overfishing, the greater the economic benefits will be [3].”

EU Agrifish Council meetings are closed to the public, there is no public record of debates, and the Council refuses to publicly livestream the sessions where annual fishing limits are decided. Meanwhile fishing industry lobbyists have repeatedly gained insider access to Agrifish meeting venues using press passes, giving them unfair influence on final decisions [5].

“The Fisheries Ministers meeting behind closed doors here today will have an impact on our ocean, our food, and our communities. Their decisions must be based on scientific advice and EU law, rather than narrow profit-based interests of a small number of fishing industry heavyweights. By ending overfishing and returning EU fish stocks to healthy levels, we could provide enough fish to feed 89 million people and support 20,000 more jobs [6]”, concluded Hubbard.

ENDS

 

Photo

High resolution photograph of the artwork by Gijs Vanhee is available for download and use in relation to this story.

Contacts

Dave Walsh, Communications Advisor, dave@our.fish +34 691826764

Rebecca Hubbard, Program Director, rebecca@our.fish +34 657669425

Follow Our Fish on Twitter: https://twitter.com/our_fish

Notes:

Today’s AGRIFISH meeting is taking place at the European Convention Center Luxembourg (ECCL)

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/agrifish/2017/10/09-10/

[1]The Petition hosted by WeMove.EU in partnership with Our Fish, Seas At risk and IFAW, was launched on Friday, October 6th https://act.wemove.eu/campaigns/save-eu-seas

[2] The reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) that entered into force in 2014 aims to restore and maintain populations of fish stocks above levels capable of supporting MSY. The corresponding exploitation rate was to be achieved by 2015 where possible and by 2020 at the latest for all stocks. Following scientific advice is essential if we are to achieve this goal, end overfishing, and restore fish stocks to healthy levels.

New Economics Foundation (2017), Landing the Blame – Overfishing in the Baltic 2017. http://neweconomics.org/2016/12/landing-the-blame/

“German and Danish Governments are also under intense pressure from the trawler-dominated Baltic Sea Advisory Council, who are proposing a western Baltic cod limit of 8,597 tonnes, which includes an extra 3,000 tonnes under the auspices of eastern Baltic cod mixing in the western baltic zones. Environmental NGOs, the European Anglers Association and the Latvian fishing association voted against this quota transfer in the Baltic Sea Advisory Council, as it further threatens the vulnerable western Baltic cod stock and disenfranchises eastern Baltic countries of their fisheries rights.”

https://our.fish/en/2017/08/31/ngos-call-on-baltic-governments-to-stop-driving-overfishing/

[3] Our Fish & New Economics Foundation (2017), How Denmark can make fisheries sustainable and fair

https://our.fish/en/2017/08/29/how-denmark-can-make-fisheries-fair-and-sustainable/

Our Fish & New Economics Foundation (2017), Germany’s blind spot for sustainable fisheries

https://our.fish/en/2017/08/28/germanys-blind-spot-for-sustainable-fisheries/

[4] Despite a strong 2016 year class, stocks are still at the second lowest biomass levels since the early 1980s, and outside of safe limits for repopulating to a healthy state.

ICES (2017), ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort, Baltic Sea Ecoregion. Published 31 May 2017. Cod.27.22-24

[5] Fishing For Influence, Corporate Europe Observatory and Seas At Risk, viewed 8/10/2017 at https://corporateeurope.org/power-lobbies/2017/05/fishing-influence

[6] Carpenter, G. & Esteban, A. (2015). Managing EU fisheries in the public interest. London: New Economics Foundation. http://neweconomics.org/2015/03/managing-eu-fisheries-in-the-public-interest/  

[7] Last week during the Our Ocean conference in Malta, Michelin-starred chefs from France, Spain and Italy wrote to their respective fisheries ministers and to EU Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella, to demand urgent action on the region’s growing fisheries crisis.

Michelin Starred Chefs and World Famous Street Artists Call for an end to Overfishing To Save Mediterranean Iconic Food and Culture https://our.fish/en/2017/10/05/michelin-starred-chefs-world-famous-street-artists-call-end-overfishing-save-mediterranean-iconic-food-culture/

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.

https://our.fish