Our Fish Comment on Norway-EU agreement on fishing limits for shared stocks in 2018

Our Fish Comment on Norway-EU agreement on fishing limits for shared stocks in 2018

Brussels, 6 December 2017:- Responding to the release of the EU-Norway agreement on fishing limits for shared stocks in 2018, the Our Fish campaign has harshly criticised the agreement’s allowance of continued overfishing in the North Sea and Skagerrak, and that illegal discarding behaviour will be rewarded with extra quota allowances.

“It is outrageous that the EU is again subjecting the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat to legalised overfishing, like some sort of horrible Groundhog Day for fish stocks”, said Our Fish Programme Director Rebecca Hubbard. “The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for Cod in the Skagerrak has been set at unbelievable 88.17% above scientific advice for wanted catch, at 7,995 tonnes.”

“This figure includes quota top-up to take into account increased landings, despite the EU being aware that there is likely widespread non-compliance with the discard ban, due to inadequate monitoring and control. This situation clearly amounts  to willful double-overfishing by the EU and cannot be excused.”

“Whiting in both the Kattegat and Skagerrak will again be subject to overfishing with a TAC set 510% above scientific advice for wanted catch (1,050 tonnes). The iconic North Sea cod, which recently received Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, will be fished 45% above what scientists recommend (if non-compliance with the discard ban continues) as a sustainable catch, despite only recently coming back from the brink of commercial collapse (TAC 43,156 tonnes). Whiting in the North Sea region was also approved for overfishing with a TAC of 99% higher than scientific advice for ‘wanted catch’ (at 22,057 tonnes).”

“Our Fish finds it disturbing that while Norway again stated its concerns regarding the lack of technical measures and control of the discard ban by the EU – increasing its call for action to urgent – in reality the EU has done little to resolve the situation, and has even prevented Norway from attending meetings with the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA)” (See 12.3.6-8)

“As a result of EU countries failing to implement advice on proven monitoring and enforcement measures, such as remote electronic monitoring, it is highly possible that millions of baby North Sea cod, equating to a huge 33% of the catch, will be illegally discarded next year, undermining knowledge of total catch quantities, and threatening MSC certification and the ability of the valuable fishery to rapidly regenerate.“

“The EU also appears to have used its negotiations with Norway on shared stock fishing limits for 2018 to start wheeling out its watered-down ideal of the North Sea Multi-Annual Plan, even though it is still in trialogue. The European Commission and Council seem to be strong-arming the Parliament into dramatically lowering targets to end overfishing of all species, undermining its ability to deliver sustainable fisheries management.” (See 5.16.2 of the Norway-EU agreement – under Long-term management strategies), added Hubbard.

“The EU-Norway negotiations have left the door open to overfishing North Sea cod and North Sea whiting”, said Our Fish Netherlands Campaigner Frederieke Vlek. “In particular, North Sea Whiting will fall under the landing obligation and may put restrictions on Dutch industrial fisheries, as it is a so-called choke species. It is however not the fishery that needs to be saved from restrictions, but the fish that needs to be saved from overfishing. By setting such a high TAC for this species, the EU has proven that there is still more political appetite for unselective fisheries with high rates of unwanted catch, than for ending discards and starting effective management for vulnerable  bycatch species.”

“The distinct lack of transparency around the EU-Norway negotiations on shared fish stocks makes detailed assessments of the agreement difficult. In 2018, the EU must provide civil society with the same access industry already benefits from, and it must release all scientific and socio-economic data used to negotiate the fishing limits, in advance”, concluded Hubbard

The Norway-EU fisheries agreement will go to the EU Agrifish Council meeting on 11-12 December for approval by the Council and Commission.


Dave Walsh, Communications Advisor, +34 691826764

Rebecca Hubbard, Program Director, +34 657669425

Frederieke Vlek, Netherlands Campaigner, +31 625031004

Follow Our Fish on Twitter: @our_fish

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.