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.

Björn Stockhausen, Fisheries Policy Officer at Seas At Risk, said: “The clock is ticking. Even though the Ministers decided to end overfishing for more fish stocks than last year, they still allow for overfishing of other stocks without any proper justification given. Progress is too slow, with only three years left to meet the ultimate deadline of 2020. It looks as if the Ministers only start to realise now they have to abide by the rules they themselves have set. Complying with these rules would result in recovered fish stocks and an economically viable fishing industry.”

The Fisheries Council agreed to set quotas above advised fishing limits for several stocks, including southern hake in Iberian waters, which was reduced less than recommended even though actual catches have exceeded the agreed quotas and advice in the last years.

When the reformed Common Fisheries Policy was adopted four years ago, European citizens welcomed its objective to end overfishing and bring fishing limits to sustainable levels by 2015 where possible and by 2020 at the latest. Since then, progress has been made, but steps forward have been undermined. Only last week a political agreement was reached on a North Sea Multi-annual plan for the management of many North Sea fish stocks, introducing severe loopholes that will allow for overfishing. Today Fisheries Ministers seemed more inclined to implement the rules, but it is not likely they will achieve their commitment to end overfishing by 2020.

Prior to the decision, Seas At Risk together with other NGOs had urged European Fisheries Ministers  to follow scientific advice when agreeing on quotas to end overfishing.

 iStock fish in the net 626339684 M



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