15 December 2020

Seas At Risk, together with 12 other NGOs, has published ‘Back to the source: Saving Europe’s biodiversity starts in the ocean’, outlining recommendations for the implementation of the EU Biodiversity and Farm to Fork Strategies. It is a toolkit of ocean-related solutions that EU decision-makers, including the Commission, Member State ministers and MEPs, can use to translate these two strategies into concrete actions to reverse biodiversity loss and restore the ocean to health by 2030.

04 December 2020

European policy makers reached a provisional agreement today on how to structure the 6.1 billion EUR budget of the next European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) 2021-2027. 

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01 December 2020

Marine environmental organisations have expressed dismay at the continued inaction of the European Commission, France and Spain, in the face of thousands of expected dolphin deaths in fishing nets in the Bay of Biscay this winter.  The season in which these needless and cruel deaths peak starts today.    

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22 October 2020

Responding to the European Commission’s proposal for deep sea fishing limits for 2021-2022, published today [1], NGOs welcome the positive steps towards following scientific advice. However, the proposal does not go far enough to ensure protection and allow the recovery of these very sensitive and unique species, some of which are the most vulnerable known to humankind. NGOs urge European decision-makers to set fishing limits for deep sea fish populations in line with scientific advice, the precautionary approach and considering the negative impact of fishing for these species on fragile deep-sea ecosystems [2].

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23 September 2020

This report, explores, and demonstrates, how EU payments for “temporary cessation” of fishing in the context of the current European Monetary Fisheries Fund, are not only an ineffective management tool for reducing fishing effort, but also ineffective in supporting marine conservation efforts. Instead, cessation payments maintain fishing overcapacity, which drives overfishing. The report has been carried out by Seas At Risk and BirdLife Europe. 


11 September 2020

The European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment (ENVI) has voted in favour of key steps to bring more transparency to fisheries activities and traceability to seafood supply chains. These amendments to the revision of the fisheries Control Regulation, the foundation for how fishing activities of the EU fleet are managed, mark a pivotal step to secure sustainable seafood and healthy marine ecosystems in the EU. 

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31 August 2020

Responding to the publication of the European Commission’s proposal for Baltic Sea fishing limits for 2021, NGOs today called on EU Baltic state governments to adopt most of the Commission’s proposed measures - and to go a step further by putting a stop to overfishing of Baltic herring [1].

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16 July 2020

A new report released today by Brussels-based NGO Seas at Risk highlights the financing of both harmful fishing practices and potential increased overcapacity - leading to overfishing [1] and loss of marine biodiversity, in the allocation of certain subsidies from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) [2].

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16 July 2020

Seas At Risk released a new report exploring how the allocation of certain subsidies from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) can lead to financing of harmful fishing practices and potential increased overcapacity, causing overfishing and loss of marine biodiversity. In particular, the report’s findings indicate that subsidies that cover operational costs, such as funds for the young fishers scheme (Article 31), can turn out to be harmful subsidies, as the safeguards attached to them are not sufficient or properly applied and enforced to prevent their damaging consequences.

10 June 2020

Seas At Risk, together with eight NGOs, released a joint report outlining recommendations on Baltic Sea fishing opportunities. The guidelines are based on the scientific advise by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea on EU fishing limits for 2021, which found that Baltic fish populations and ecosystems remain in a state of crisis.

29 May 2020

Responding to the publication of annual scientific advice for EU fishing limits for 2021 in the Baltic Sea by ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea), which finds important Baltic fish populations remain in a state of crisis, and the entire Baltic Sea ecosystem in very poor health [1], a group of NGOs are demanding that the European Commission and national fisheries ministers adhere to ICES expert scientific recommendations for zero fishing of western Baltic herring and eastern Baltic cod for 2021, to end overfishing of all other species, and commit to increased focus on ecosystem and climate considerations.

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26 May 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted seafood supply chains, leading the EU institutions and Member States to react quickly, allocating funds to address the health and economic impacts on the seafood production industry. However, any policy proposal or stimulus package for the maritime sector must contribute to rebuilding a healthier, more resilient and socially just Blue Economy. In a recent paper, Seas At Risk, together with 11 other marine NGOs, has devised a principle-based approach to assess post-Covid-19 fisheries support policies in light of this overarching objective.

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13 May 2020

Seas At Risk together with Birdlife, ClientEarth and Our Fish wrote a letter to EU Commission Vice-President Timmermans to voice their concern regarding a potential lack of consideration for the harmful environmental impacts of seafood production in the soon to be released Farm to Fork strategy. The most recent draft did not include any comprehensive measures or targets for a transition to a more sustainable fisheries and aquaculture sector. The current seafood production system is ecologically unsustainable and a major driver of marine biodiversity loss. Therefore, the NGOs urged in the letter, adjusting the upcoming strategy to include appropriate measures is crucial to achieve a truly sustainable European food production.


13 May 2020

Fundació ENT, together with Sciaena and Ecologistas en Acción, analysed the European Commission’s communications on EU fisheries in line with the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) for the period 2015 to 2020. The detailed analysis raises a number of concerns about the methodology used by the Commission, showing that the number of Total Allowable Catches (TACs) set ‘in line with MSY’ in EU fisheries in 2020 has been overestimated by 29%.

In order to allow the recovery of fish stocks to sustainable levels, the Common Fisheries Policy requires the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) exploitation rate to be achieved by 2015 where possible and at the latest by 2020 for all stocks. Five years since the reformed Common Fisheries Policy entered into force, considerable uncertainty remains about the real number of stocks exploited at sustainable levels in the EU, defined by the number of Total Allowable Catches (TACs) set in line with scientific advice on the MSY.

Each year since December 2014, following the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers annual decision, the European Commission (EC) has published a list of the stocks fished in the North-East Atlantic, North Sea and Baltic Sea that are considered ‘in line with MSY’ for the following year (see 2020 list here). These annual communications are an essential measure of the steps taken by EU Fisheries Ministers to establish sustainable fishing limits, yet they contain significant inconsistencies and complicate assessments of real progress towards the legal requirement to end overfishing.

More specifically, the NGOs comparison report (see detailed table at the end of the document) shows that the seven new TACs listed by the Commission as ‘in line with MSY in 2020’ are neither truly new nor in line with MSY.

The report also reveals that the number of TACs ‘in line with MSY’ has been overestimated by the Commission every year. This overestimation is due to the Commission’s inclusion of:

Various fishing limits for which Fisheries Ministers agreed to set their TAC above the precautionary approach, above the scientific advice for zero catch, or above the scientific advice on MSY (e.g. salmon in the Baltic, megrim in the Irish Sea, northern hake, etc.) Various fishing limits with only partial or no MSY advice on catch available from the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) for stocks covered by a TAC, or because some stocks or functional units are considered undefined by ICES (e.g. megrim in the Bay of Biscay, Norway lobster in the Celtic Sea and Irish Sea).

This analysis reveals that up to 18 TACs cannot be considered ‘in line with MSY’ in 2020 and should be removed from the list, leaving 44 of the 62 TACs on the Commission list for this year. This means that the European Commission has overestimated the number of TACs set in line with MSY in 2020 by 29%. A longer-term analysis suggests that since 2015, the European Commission has overestimated the number of TACs set in line with MSY by 19% on average. The overall number of TACs set ‘in line with MSY’ should therefore be:

2015 - 30 (instead of 36); 2016 - 29 (instead of 38); 2017 - 37 (instead of 47); 2018 - 50 (instead of 53); 2019 - 49 (instead of 59); and 2020 - 44 (instead of 62).

The decrease in the number of TACs set ‘in line with MSY’ is a worrying trend that demonstrates a reversal in progress towards ending overfishing in the last two years. This alarming lack of progress suggests that it is no longer possible to achieve the EU’s own legally binding deadline for achieving sustainable fishing limits for all stocks by 2020.

Fundació ENT, Sciaena and Ecologistas en Acción are encouraging the European Commission to consider all of the concerns and recommendations in the report. They particularly call on the Commission and EU Fisheries Ministers to significantly increase their efforts to end overfishing in line with the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, to guarantee that all fishing opportunities for 2021 (including deep sea) should not exceed the scientific advice, and to ensure that the precautionary approach defined in the Common Fisheries Policy is applied.

30 April 2020

In the current context of Covid-19 economic crisis, Seas At Risk together with other marine NGOs wrote a letter to the European Commission Vice President Timmermans and Commissioner Sinkevičius. NGOs ask to the two politicians to ensure that Europe’s public stimulus investments to maritime sectors (and all economic sectors which have impacts on the ocean) are conditional on protecting and restoring the ocean’s health. In the letter, NGOs recall the Blue Manifesto as a blue answer to the European Green Deal.

30 April 2020

Seas At Risk together with other marine NGOs released a joint report outlining a framework for Covid-19 recovery measures in the fisheries sector. The report sets out ten principles – such as clarity and transparency, consultation and institutional integrity – to guide fisheries support policies and ensure long-term benefits for nature and people beyond emergency relief. The framework aims at helping policy makers develop and appraise response to policy options, leading to a healthier fishing sector and marine environment.

An Executive Summary of the report is also available.

20 April 2020

The fisheries and aquaculture sectors have been hard hit by the economic impacts of the Covid-19 crisis and swift action is necessary to support those whose livelihoods are threatened. However, the emergency nature of the situation should not force damaging decisions that will lead to further degradation of the ocean. The European Commission has proposed measures to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors. Seas At Risk’s recommendations aim to ensure that these proposed emergency measures do not lead to the reintroduction of subsidies that would be harmful to the environment, the economy and society in general. More specifically, the current crisis should not create a precedent whereby future EMFF funds are used to support unviable businesses. Instead, all measures should seek to support the transition to sustainable, low-impact fishers and aquaculture farmers, thereby protecting both livelihoods and the marine environment.


26 March 2020

Depletion of fish populations, habitat destruction, bycatch of sensitive species, water pollution… Wild fisheries is one of the key drivers of biodiversity loss at sea, according to the 2019 UN IPBES global assessment report on biodiversity. Despite recognition of the issue, however, the latest leaked draft of the upcoming Farm-to-Fork Strategy [1] by the European Commission pays little attention to the harmful environmental impacts of seafood production.

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03 March 2020

On Tuesday March 3, 2020, the 164 WTO member governments will have 100 days to negotiate and finalize a new WTO agreement to end harmful fisheries subsidies and fulfil the mandate of UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.6. The WTO’s Twelfth Ministerial Conference starts on June 8, World Ocean Day and ends on June 11.

109 organizations have signed a policy statement - available in English and French - urging world leaders to deliver on their commitment. 


28 January 2020

More than 100 environmental organisations, led by Seas At Risk, BirdLife Europe, ClientEarth, Oceana, Surfrider Foundation Europe and WWF launched the “Blue Manifesto”. The rescue plan lays out concrete actions which must be delivered by set dates in order to turn the tide on the ever-degraded and polluted ocean and coastlines. To be successful, change is needed on both land and sea. The NGOs call for: At least 30% of the ocean to be highly or fully protected by 2030, Shift to low-impact fishing; Securing a pollution-free ocean; Planning of human activities that support the restoration of thriving marine ecosystems. 

Press Release available in EN, FR, ES, IT, PT, DE, HR, BG

Blue Manifesto vertical version

Blue Manifesto horizontal version



Full list of organisations signing the Manifesto: A Rocha (International Marine and Coastal Conservation Programme); Animal latitude; APECE - Portuguese Association for the Study and Conservation of Elasmobranchs; Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation; ASOC - Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition; Asociacion plataforma"El Chorlitejo"; BIOM association; BirdLfie Sverige; BirdLife Cyprus; Birdlife Europe and Central Asia; BirdLife Malta; BirdLife Suomi; Birdwatch Ireland; Bloom; Brot für die Welt; BUND - Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland; By the Ocean We Unite; Climate Action Network Europe; CCB - Coalition Clean Baltic; CFFA-CAPE; ClientEarth; Compassion in World Farming; Cork Env Forum; Cork nature network; Deep Sea Conservation Coalition; Deep wave; DEPANA; DN - Danmarks Naturfredningsforening; DSM - Deutsche Stiftung Meeresschutz; ; DUH - Deutsche Umwelthilfe; Ecologistas En Accion; Ecos; EEB - European Environmental Bureau; ENT Foundation; Environmental Justice Foundation; FANC - Finnish Association for Nature Conservation; France Nature Environnement; Friends of the Black Sea; Friends of the Earth Europe; Fundajia Aquarium; Geota; Good fish foundation; Greenpeace; HOS - Hellenic Ornithological Society; IFAW - International Fund for Animal Welfare Europe; INCA - Iceland Nature Conservation Association; International Programme on the State of the Ocean; Irish Sea Sanctuary; Irish Wildlife Trust; Legambiante; Living Sea; LOB - Latvian Ornithological Society; LOD - Lithuanian Ornithological Society; LPN - Liga para a Protecção da Natureza; LPO - Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux; MARE Foundation; Mare Nostrum; Marevivo; MCS - Marine Conservation Society; MedReact; MedSOS; MEER; MIO-ECSDE - Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development; Mundus Maris; NABU - Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union; Natuurpunt; New Economics Foundation; Ocean and Climate Platform; Oceana; OceanCare; Oceanografica; OMA - Observatório do Mar dos Açores; Otop - Ogólnopolskie Towarzystwo Ochrony Ptaków; Our Fish; PongPesca; Poseidonia green project; Project Aware; Prowildlife; Quercus; ReefCheck; Rethink Plastic Alliance; Retorna; RSPB - Royal Society for the Protection of Birds; SAR - Seas At Risk; Sciaena; SDN - Stichting de Nordzee; Sea First; SEO - Sociedad Española de Ornitología; Slowfood Germany; SMILO - Small Islands Organisation; SPEA - Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves; SSNC - Swedish Society for Nature Conservation; Sunce; Surfrider; SWAN - Sustainable Water Network; T&E - Transport and Environment; TNC - The Nature Conservancy; Tour des deux Amériques solidaire en voilier; Under the pole; WDC - Whale and Dolphin Conservation; WWF; Zero Waste Europe.

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