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.

Scientists from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) have published landmark advice today, warning the European Commission that immediate action is needed to protect two critically vulnerable marine species. A group of NGOs has welcomed the move, which came in response to their major intervention last year. 

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.

The Covid-19 pandemic is significantly impacting our societies, economies and health systems. Even at this time of international crisis, however, plastic industry representatives are continuing to push a single-use agenda, making false arguments in attempts to postpone or weaken environmental legislation.

Today, the European Commission unveiled the Biodiversity Strategy 2030 and the Farm to Fork Strategy, two flagship policies of the European Green Deal. These strategies are the first test of the Commission’s commitment to turning the tide on environmental degradation and biodiversity collapse.

After the Covid-19 pandemic made large gatherings of people unsafe around the world, environmental groups with consultative status at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), including the Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC), of which Seas At Risk is a member, have written to the IMO Secretary General, Mr Kitack Lim, encouraging the organisation to continue its critical ship climate talks virtually.

The Covid-19 pandemic is having a dramatic impact on people’s health and jobs. As the crisis intensifies across Europe, EU institutions and Member State governments are ramping up financial supports to deal with the economic fallout. Emergency measures are crucial to support people’s livelihoods in these uncertain times. They also provide an important opportunity to look beyond the emergency and plan for a more resilient socioeconomic model, one that provides social well-being, secure green jobs, and promotes the sustainable use of natural resources within planetary boundaries.

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.

The European Commission recently launched its new Circular Economy Action Plan, as announced in the European Green Deal. As an improvement on the previous circular economy plan, which focused mainly on promoting recycling, the new circular economy now prioritises action on resource-efficient, energy-efficient and toxic-free products as well as waste prevention measures.

Harmful fisheries subsidies can have a devastating impact on the marine environment, yet they remain a key issue in negotiations in the next European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) 2021-2027. This issue is likely to generate much debate in the next and final negotiations between the Parliament and Council of the European Union, who support these harmful subsidies, and the European Commission, who is determined to exclude them.   

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