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On Tuesday night, decisions on fishing quotas in the North East Atlantic for 2015 were set by the EU ministers in Brussels. The conservation organizations, however, strongly denounce the results of which 56 per cent were not in adherence to scientific advice. And so, in the case of North Atlantic cod, the ministers decided to actually increase catches by 5 per cent, whereas scientific organizations recommended a 20 per cent reduction.

For the last four years, EU decision-makers have been engaging in tough negotiations for the better management of fisheries in Europe, which resulted in the reformed EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) this year. The decision made on Tuesday night shows that the ministers did not properly fulfill their obligations to end overfishing and set sustainable limits on catches.   

Despite his enthusiasm for increasing the number of stocks managed at a sustainable level, new Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, has admitted the decisions on catch limits for 2015 did not adhere to scientific advice and that it’s now up to the member states to “take the necessary decisions to avoid a real disaster happening later.”

On the 10th of December, delegates from over 130 NGOs handed in a jointly signed letter to the Polish Ministry of Agriculture. Along with representatives of the Green Institute and a Pew Advisor on a campaign to end overfishing in Europe’s north western waters, Oceana participated in the meeting with the Polish representatives in Warsaw.

In the letter, conservationist organizations petitioned for what was not taken into account during December’s EU ministers Council- setting fishing quotas in line with the scientific advice and following the commitments of the CFP to eliminate overfishing by 2015 or 2020 at the very latest.

In the light of the gloomy vision to end overfishing in Europe soon, the outcome of the discussions with the Polish Ministry of Agriculture brings positive prospects for future decisions on fishing quotas. The Ministry has assured that more attention will be paid to the scientific opinion and that the voice of environmental organizations will be listened to, and what is more important, considered.

Let’s hope this will happen sooner rather than later.

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