The European Parliament has today voted to water down its commitments made in 2013 to reform fisheries in the European Union (EU) and to manage all the bloc’s fisheries sustainably. MEPs, in a plenary session, favoured fishing at levels that still make overfishing possible, a move criticised by Oceana.
Lasse Gustavsson, executive director for Oceana Europe, released the following statement after the vote on the Western Waters Multiannual Plan:
“EU lawmakers must stick to the very same laws they helped to put in place. The Common Fisheries Policy governing fishing in the EU is clear: end overfishing by 2020 at the latest. At a time when there is an increasing urgency and movement for marine conservation around the globe, the EU must lead, and not backtrack on its own commitments. The new UK Fisheries Bill and EU Parliament vote make today a day of missed opportunities for the health and status of the Atlantic Ocean.”
The plan will be now negotiated with the Council of the EU, composed of fisheries ministers from EU countries. The final deal is expected in spring 2019.
Notes to the editor
Western Waters is a northeast Atlantic area roughly covering the waters located west of Scotland and Ireland, the Celtic Sea, the Irish Sea and the English Channel, as well as the Bay of Biscay, the Iberian waters and the waters around the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands.
EU countries such as Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the UK all have fishing fleets operating there, which hold key commercial and popular fish such as cod, haddock, plaice, sole, hake, Norway lobster, anglerfish and megrims, representing represented around 368 000 tonnes in 2017, with a first sale value of around €1.4 billion.
However, these fishing grounds are heavily fished. Recent estimates show that around 40% of stocks in this area are now overfished, casting doubt on the long-term sustainability of the stocks.
Environmental NGOs have called on the EU to deliver a fisheries management plan for the region that ensures the full recovery of fish stocks. Back in 2013, during the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, EU countries committed to a 2020 deadline to end overfishing by 2015 or by 2020 at the latest. Any pressure or attempt to postpone the sustainable recovery of oceans resources should be not tolerated.