baltic cod

Our Fish Response to Reckless Claims by German Fishing Federation Leader

Our Fish Response to Reckless Claims by German Fishing Federation Leader

Berlin, 26 October, 2017:- Responding to claims by Peter Breckling, General Secretary of the German Fishing Federation that “in 2019 the cod stocks will be gigantic” in the Baltic Sea, in an article published by German news outlet, Kieler Nachrichten, Our Fish Programme Director Rebecca Hubbard said:

“Mr Breckling’s claims regarding abundant Baltic cod stocks in 2019 are absurd and reckless. One strong year class for western Baltic cod is not evidence that the ‘fishing crisis will be over in 2019’. Baltic cod stocks are still at the second lowest biomass levels since the early 1980s, and are still outside safe limits for repopulating to a healthy state.”

“Western Baltic cod quotas are set far too high to rebuild these iconic fish stocks to healthy levels, with ministers at the recent AGRIFISH meeting agreeing on quotas four times higher than the most cautious advice recommended by fisheries scientists. If the German government continues to listen to fishing industry representatives like Mr Breckling, and making promises that are impossible to deliver on, it risks inducing a collapse of Baltic cod fish stocks instead of rebuilding them, as is required under EU fisheries law”.

“By claiming that more fish need to be caught, because ecosystems cannot feed current stocks, and that fish are being lost because of underfishing, should be seen as evidence that at best Mr Breckling is living in some kind of fishy fantasy world, and at worst misrepresenting the fishing industry, while misleading the German government and consumers.”

Notes:

‘”2019 ist die Fischerei-Krise überstanden“, Kieler Nachrichten 24/10/2017

2019 wird der Dorschbestand gigantisch sein, sagt Peter Breckling, Generalsekretär des Deutschen Fischereiverbands, voraus. Er plädiert deshalb dafür, die Quote schon im nächsten Jahr zu erhöhen.’

(‘”2019 the fishing crisis is over”

In 2019 the cod stocks will be gigantic, says Peter Breckling, General Secretary of the German Fishing Federation. He therefore advocates increasing the quota already next year.’)

 

For more information, see the Our Fish press release from October 10:

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

Report:

Germany’s Blind Spot for Sustainable Fisheries (EN)

Neuer Bericht betont Deutschlands blinden Fleck für nachhaltige Fischerei (DE)

Contacts

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

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

Follow Our Fish on Twitter 

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

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

Baltic Sea fishing fleets toying with access rights in quest to overfish Baltic Cod

Baltic Sea fishing fleets toying with access rights in quest to overfish Baltic Cod

Copenhagen, 14 July 2017:– Responding to recommendations for 2018 fishing opportunities made by the Baltic Sea Advisory Council (BSAC), Our Fish Campaign manager Rebecca Hubbard said today that the German and Danish bottom trawling industry must stop trying to use obfuscation to shield scrutiny of its overfishing and its attempts to disenfranchise eastern Baltic countries of their fisheries rights.

“Big fishing industry players from the  richer western countries of the EU, like Denmark and Germany, are not only threatening to decimate the Western Baltic Cod stock by setting fishing limits far above scientific advice, they are also threatening the eastern Baltic states’ access to fresh, locally caught fish and historic access rights, by adding eastern cod quota to the western quota”, said Hubbard.

The Council of EU fisheries ministers set 2017 fishing limits for Western Baltic Cod stocks 352% higher than scientific advice, despite the fact that they were teetering on the edge of commercial collapse (1,2).

The Baltic Sea Advisory Council, dominated by large scale fishing interests, is encouraging the same approach this year with their recommendations for a Total Allowable Catch of 8,597 tonnes – 62% higher than the upper recommended limit by International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). This includes an extra 3,000 tonnes under the auspices of eastern Baltic cod mixing in the western Baltic zones. The Latvian fishing association voted against this quota transfer in the Advisory Council (3,4,5).

“Almost every year, for the last eleven years, the Baltic Sea Advisory Council has argued for higher western Baltic cod fishing limits than ICES scientists advise, claiming that these are due to socio-economic concerns for their industry. In reality, overfishing is a driver of these socio-economic problems, and the large scale trawling interests that dominate BSAC use coastal passive gear fishers as a human shield – an excuse to increase fishing limits for themselves, who are also responsible for the historic overfishing“, says Hubbard adding,  “This happens while the small, passive gear fishers, more dependent on healthy fish stocks due to their lower fishing capacity, are left to fight over the scraps of a dying fishery.”

The eastern Baltic cod stock has fallen from an extraordinary peak of 400,000 tonnes in 1984 to just under 57,000 tonnes in 1992, and ICES advice for 2018 recommends a commercial catch around 26,000 tonnes (6). BSAC are recommending this be set 20% higher at over 30,000 tonnes in the eastern Baltic zones, plus an additional 3,000 tonnes be added to the western Baltic cod quota to account for mixing of eastern cod in the western Baltic Sea.

“Just because eastern Baltic cod are in the western Baltic, does not mean we increase the western Baltic cod fishing limit – they are different stocks with finite limits that cannot be continuously disregarded without repercussions”.

“The only thing that these obtuse quota maths add up to is a relentless pursuit to overfish by Danish and German bottom trawlers. This push for overfishing and quota grabbing  comes as a warning for how Denmark will likely approach the Presidency of BALTFISH, that began on  July 1st. It appears that Danish quota barons are still steering the boat on fisheries management in the region and nothing but a shipwreck will stop them”, concluded Hubbard.

ENDS

Notes

31 May 2017: Baltic Sea Ministers Must Act To Stop Cod Collapse

https://our.fish/en/2017/05/31/baltic-sea-ministers-must-act-stop-cod-collapse/

Eastern Baltic states have very little quota access to western Baltic cod, however Denmark has the largest share of western Baltic cod (46%) and the second largest share of eastern Baltic cod (23%). Poland has the largest share of eastern Baltic cod (33%), while Latvia and Lithuania get 9% and 6% respectively. These percentages don’t change with the level of fishing limits annually, as they are based on historic access to the fishery known as “relative stability”, so if eastern Baltic cod is now getting counted in the western Baltic zones where eastern Baltic states have no access to quota, relative stability will be affected.

  1. Western Baltic cod has been overfished for a number of years, so that even after 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
  2. New Economics Foundation (2017), Landing the Blame – Overfishing in the Baltic 2017.
  3. Baltic Sea Advisory Council recommendations for the fishery 2018 http://bsac.dk/BSAC-Resources/BSAC-Statements-and-recommendations/BSAC-recommendations-for-the-fishery-2018
  4. When BSAC recommendations are compared with ICES recommendations, they have been consistently above the science http://bsac.dk/BSAC-Resources/BSAC-Statements-and-recommendations; http://www.ices.dk/publications/library/Pages/default.aspx
  5. Information on Danish fleet: https://stecf.jrc.ec.europa.eu/documents/43805/1034590/2015-07_STECF+15-07+-+AER+2015_JRCxxx.pdf
  6. ICES (2017), ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort, Baltic Sea Ecoregion. Published 31 May 2017. cod.27.25-32

 

Contacts

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

Rebecca Hubbard, Campaign Manager, rebecca@our.fish +34 657669425

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 brings together organisations from across Europe to speak with a common voice: overfishing of our waters 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.

http://www.ourfish.eu