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Italian industry hijacks European Commission-funded body to influence EU Parliament decision on Mediterranean fisheries

According to information seen by Oceana, Italian industry within EC Advisory body MedAC used its power to influence European Parliament vote

Press Release Date

Friday, December 7, 2018
Contact: Marta Madina: mmadina@oceana.org 0034 911 440 884

Oceana has seen evidence revealing that an EU-funded body, the Mediterranean Advisory Council (MedAC), aligned with a portion of the Italian fishing industry to lobby MEPs and postpone the latest European Parliament vote on the Western Mediterranean Multiannual Plan, which could have decided the future of the most overexploited sea in the world. Senior figures within this advisory body, who are required to  remain impartial, orchestrated and disseminated the position of the fishing industry to the Members of the European Parliament, urging them to delay the vote. According to the evidence, this is not the first time that this tactic has been used for Mediterranean negotiations.

“The Mediterranean fishing industry has proven that it will do whatever is in its hands and at all costs to stop any attempt to rebuild Mediterranean fisheries, even if it implies using a tax payer-funded Advisory Council to attempt to legitimate its arguments. Oceana, which is a member of various European Commission Advisory Councils, considers that this action clearly violates the principles of impartiality and transparency of Advisory Councils, as established by EU law. We now request a thorough investigation by the European Commission and proportionate measures to restore the damaged credibility of this Advisory Council”, said Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director for Oceana in Europe

On November 27th, the vote on the Western Mediterranean Plan in the European Parliament Fisheries Committee was postponed at the last minute, following a request by the rapporteur Clara Aguilera (S&D, Spain). This sudden delay appeared to result from strong lobbying action by fishing industry associations from Italy, Spain and France, who powerfully oppose the adoption of the Plan.

The delay could mean that the proposal may not be approved in time before the European elections in May, and could therefore stay in limbo. The Plan is a critical piece of legislation with the potential to reform Mediterranean fisheries, by aligning them with science, safeguarding breeding grounds from destructive activities, and preventing the collapse of highly overfished stocks.

Note to editors:

  • Advisory Councils are stakeholder-led organisations that provide the European Commission and EU Member States with recommendations on fisheries management matters. Established under the Common Fisheries Policy, they must ensure transparency and the respect of all opinions expressed. The chairperson of each Advisory Council must act impartially.
  • The multiannual plan for demersal fisheries in the Western Mediterranean Sea is meant to better implement the Common Fisheries Policy in a regional context.
  • 80% of Mediterranean demersal stocks (those living close to the seabed) are currently overfished, and some severely overfished, like hake and red-mullet, which are exploited at more than ten times above sustainable levels.
  • It is the second time this vote has been postponed in the Fisheries Committee, potentially undermining the finalisation of this file before the end of the legislature.

Learn more: Western Mediterranean. Overfishing crisis: act now, or lose it foreverr ahora o perderlo para siempre