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27 June 2018

15 marine conservation NGOs from Spain and Portugal, including Seas At Risk members Sciaena, LPN, GEOTA, Quercus and ENT Foundation, have agreed to coordinate their work on key marine conservation issues. Their first joint meeting took place on 11 June 2018 and discussed Iberian sardine stock, deep sea fishing opportunities and full implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy.  

Nature does not comply with man-made boundaries, and Portuguese and Spanish fishermen have long shared fishing stocks. Iberian NGOs recognise the need to collaborate closely to improve the health of marine ecosystems in the region, given the deep geographical, biological, social, economic and political connection between Spain and Portugal. The recent collapse of sardine stock, for example, was a stark reminder of the need for greater cooperation in the region.   

The marine conservation NGOs agreed that full implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy is crucial. The Portuguese and Spanish Ministries must take the lead in Europe and follow the best available scientific advice to restore and maintain fish populations at sustainable levels by 2020. In the past, Portugal and Spain have often been reluctant to respect the Common Fisheries Policy, and the Iberian NGOs are seeking to meet with the European Commissioner of the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, to discuss the gravity of the situation in the region.

The Portuguese and Spanish NGOs agreed that both countries need to be more proactive in promoting sustainable management of small-scale and low-impact fisheries, and to work closely together towards sound management of the Natura 2000 network. The challenges faced in Iberian waters go far beyond fisheries, with marine litter, oil and gas extraction plans, unsustainable river basin management, and pollution all requiring joint action. The Iberian NGOs thus agreed to compile a list of cooperation areas, as well as creating a shared communication platform to increase their capacity to deal with these environmental challenges.   

01 June 2018

The European Parliament recently approved new legislation on the management of fisheries in the North Sea. The multi-annual plan (MAP) is the second such programme, after the earlier Baltic plan. Both bills undermine the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy, a central tenet of which is to end overfishing.

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30 April 2018

The Common Fisheries Policy legal deadline to bring fishing limits within sustainable levels and end the wasteful practice of discarding unwanted catch is rapidly approaching. Seas At Risk, together with its members and other NGOs, call on European and national policy makers to meet the key objectives and commitments of the Common Fisheries Policy.

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09 March 2018

For the third year in a row, Fundació ENT and Sciaena (member organisations of Seas At Risk), together with Ecologistas en Acción (a major Spanish environmental NGO), have compared and analysed European Commission reports on EU fisheries catch limits to assess their adherence to the legal requirement to stop overfishing. Analysis of the reports from 2015 to 2018 highlights some concerns about the methodology used by the Commission, and raises the possibility that the number of stocks assessed as being fished sustainably may have been overestimated each year.

In order to allow the recovery of fish stocks to sustainable levels, the Common Fisheries Policy requires an end to overfishing by 2015 where possible, with a progressive, incremental end to overfishing for all fish stocks by 2020 at the latest. At present, four years after the Common Fisheries Policy entered into force, it remains difficult to ascertain the real number of stocks that are no longer overfished in the EU (i.e. the number of agreed fishing limits in line with scientific advice based on the maximum sustainable yield).

Since December 2014, following the annual quota decisions by the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers, the European Commission publishes a list of stocks fished in the north-east Atlantic, North Sea and Baltic Sea for which the agreed catch limits for the following year are considered sustainable and ‘in line with the maximum sustainable yield’. These publications are essential to measuring progress towards ending overfishing, particularly for EU Fisheries Ministers when agreeing fishing limits. However, they contain significant inconsistencies that prevent comprehensive evaluation of the real progress made.

More specifically, several stocks that were reported as being fished sustainably (or in Commission terms, ‘in line with the maximum sustainable yield’) in 2015, 2016 and 2017 are no longer in that category in 2018. For instance, since last year, eight catch limits have lost their ‘in line with the maximum sustainable yield’ status. By contrast, the Commission reports that 15 new stocks are fished sustainably in 2018, despite earlier reports listing five out of those 15 stocks at least once in previous years. This trend of ‘two steps forward, one step back’ is not in line with the Common Fisheries Policy requirement for progressive and incremental movement towards sustainable exploitation rates.

According to the Commission, the total number of stocks that are fished sustainably is 36 for 2015, 38 for 2016, 47 for 2017 and 53 for 2018. However, according to the analysis published by Fundació ENT, Sciaena and Ecologistas en Acción, these numbers are not entirely correct, and the number of stocks sustainably fished and ‘in line with the maximum sustainable yield’ has, in fact, been overestimated. In their analysis, the organisations detail the reasons for such overestimation and conclude that Commission reports must incorporate substantial improvements.

It is remarkable that numerous fishing limits continue to be set above sustainable limits despite the looming 2020 deadline to end overfishing. In order to safeguard the future of EU fisheries, Member State Fisheries Ministers must re-focus their efforts on ending overfishing, in line with the Common Fisheries Policy.

16 January 2018

The European Parliament plenary voted today on a proposal to merge and simplify a set of rules within current fisheries legislation. Despite being aimed at reducing the impacts of fisheries on the marine environment, the proposal adopted only serves to weaken existing protective legislation, without scientific justification.

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13 December 2017

Early this morning European Fisheries Ministers have made progress towards the goal to end overfishing in the Atlantic and North Sea in 2018, though they still have set many quotas above the fishing limits that scientists had advised to ensure sustainable fisheries.  These decisions are at odds with the legal obligation of EU Member States to end overfishing by 2020 at the latest.

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05 December 2017

Seas At Risk together with The Pew Charitable Trusts, Oceana, ClientEarth and the Fisheries Secretariat, sent to EU Ministers their recommendations regarding the 2018 Northeast Atlantic and North Sea Total Allowable Catches that the Council will set on 11–12 December 2017. The environmental NGOs urge Ministers to ensure that the 2018 TACs meet the requirements of the Common Fisheries Policy and end overfishing. Documents are: Letter to Ministers, Policy annex and Total Allowable Catches annex. It’s possible to consult previous council recommendations here

05 December 2017

On 11 & 12 December, the Fisheries Council will meet to agree fishing quotas for 2018. Ahead of this meeting, Seas At Risk, together with Pew, Oceana, ClientEarth and the Fisheries Secretariat, has called on the Ministers for Fisheries of the EU Member States to follow current scientific advice and take steps to end overfishing.

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28 November 2017

Seas At Risk joined 19 other NGOs in a call to fisheries ministers to ban fisheries for adult eel in all EU waters, including fresh water. Due to anthropogenic impacts there has been a dramatic reduction in the European eel in all the EU in the last 30 years, and less than 5% of the stock is left.  Conservation efforts to protect this species have failed up to now. Since 2008 scientists have been advising to close the fisheries, but this has so far been ignored by the Ministers. The state of the European eel got to such critical level that immediate action is necessary to achieve the recovery of the species. A ban on the fishing on adult eels would allow them to spawn as a first step to recovery.

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21 November 2017

The European Parliament Fisheries Committee today voted on a proposal that will revise legislation on the protection of fisheries resources and marine ecosystems. The proposal merges more than 30 existing regulations and directives, all aimed at minimising the impacts of fishing on ecosystems. However, the proposal seriously weakens or deletes several existing measures.

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16 November 2017

Technical measures are the rules for where, when and how fishing may take place. These measures are fundamental to regulating the impact of fishing on stocks and marine ecosystems. Technical conservation measures will play a key role in achieving some of the main objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy. The document gives a list of key recommendations, which take into consideration how technical conservation measures can achieve these Common Fisheries Policy objectives. NGOs strongly urge members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries to vote in favour of amendments that strengthen the Commission’s proposal and increase protections for marine ecosystems.

05 October 2017

Seas At Risk together with the Fisheries Secretariat sent to European Ministers the recommendations on the European Commission’s proposal on fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2018. The two NGOs ask Ministers to ensure a sustainable utilisation of our common marine resources. Documents are: The recommendations to the ministers, Annex on fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2018 and Annex on measures for the European eel. It’s possible to consult previous council recommendations here.

14 September 2017

Seas At Risk welcomes the decision of the European Parliament for a robust North Sea multiannual management plan that will effectively see an end to overfishing of species living near the sea bottom in that region. The plan covers fish stocks that represent almost 70% of the North Sea catch.

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19 July 2017

To date, more than 100 fish stocks out of 153 are still being overfished in EU waters and the reduction of unwanted catches remains yet to be solved despite the attempts of regulation at EU level. According to the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy, discarding and overfishing are practices that have to come to an end within the EU by 2019 and 2020 respectively. However, Seas At Risk doubts that these goals will be achieved within the deadlines.  Progress has been very slow and decisions have often been influenced by economic interests to the detriment of the environment.

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15 June 2017

Environmental NGOs called for an ambitious and science-based multiannual management plan for small pelagic stocks in the Adriatic Sea. Below the letter sent to the Fisheries Attachés of the EU Member States, the Committee on Fisheries of the European Parliament and in copy Commissioner Vella and DG MARE. 

 

04 May 2017

A new investigation by Corporate Europe Observatory and Seas at Risk reveals how Dutch and Spanish fishing lobbies have used press passes to access the EU Council building during crucial ministerial negotiations on fishing quotas.

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26 January 2017

While the new EU regulation on Data Collection will provide EU decision makers with a sufficient scope of data for more informed policy making, it also hides a few paradoxes.

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14 December 2016

Brussels - The EU’s Fisheries Council went on until the early morning today to agree on the North Sea and North-East Atlantic quotas for 2017. Once again Ministers failed to end overfishing. The agreed catch limits for several stocks for 2017, including cod in the Celtic Sea, Southern hake, and sole in the Bay of Biscay, are higher than the maximum sustainable yield levels recommended by scientist. This, despite Ministers’ commitments to end overfishing for all stocks by 2020 at the latest, as agreed under the Common Fisheries Policy.

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23 November 2016

Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat sent to the Fisheries Ministers of the EU Member States recommendations for 2017 fishing opportunities.  Important decisions will be taken at the EU Fisheries Council meeting on 12th and 13th December 2016. Please find here the Letter and the Annex

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18 November 2016

London, 18 November 2016 - The annual meeting of the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission closed today without agreement regarding management of the deep-sea fish orange roughy. The Commission also agreed on total allowable catches of 7,500 tonnes for redfish in the Irminger Sea. These decisions leave both vulnerable species subject to overfishing, despite clear scientific advice to not allow any direct fishing for them.

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