Environmental NGOs Seas At Risk, Our Fish and Oceana are deeply disappointed that todays Commission proposal for fishing limits in the Baltic allows for the continuation of  overfishing in 2020, even though there is a legal deadline to end overfishing by 2020 under the EU Common Fisheries Policy. The Commission’s proposal includes fishing limits that exceed scientific advice for the iconic western Baltic herring and  main basin Baltic salmon. It also  leaves a gaping loophole for over-exploitation of the threatened eastern Baltic cod. 

This year is the final chance for the Commission and EU Fisheries Ministers to honour their legal commitment to end overfishing in EU waters by 2020. It is clear, however, that insufficient progress has been made to date, despite the looming deadline. Now more than ever, the Commission and Fisheries Ministers must follow scientific advice if they are to achieve sustainable fisheries and restore our ocean to health.

On the occasion of the Ocean Pavilion event, organised by Surfrider Foundation Europe just ahead of the G7 Summit in France in August, Monica Verbeek, Executive Director at Seas At Risk, called on the G7 leaders to take stronger action. She noted that the G7 should take a leading role to end overfishing by 2020 and to ensure the implementation of a coherent network of effective, well-protected and well-managed Marine Protected Areas, covering at least 30% of coastal and marine waters by 2030 globally.

Deep sea mining proponents such as the International Seabed Authority (ISA) claim that economic prosperity can only be secured if the global supply of metals doubles by the middle of this century. Yet UNEP’s International Resource Panel (IRP) brings a different perspective on the future needs for metals and calls for a new global governance mechanism to oversee the sustainable use and supply of mineral resources. Seas At Risk calls on ISA member countries to rethink their support for deep sea mining in light of the UNEP-IRP’s findings and recommendations.

Thousands of dolphins, porpoises and whales die in European waters, due to  accidental capture in fisheries nets (bycatch). Today 22 environmental NGOs [1], led by Seas At Risk, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, ClientEarth and Coalition Clean Baltic, jointly called on the European Commission to adopt emergency measures to immediately prevent further deaths and take legal action against 15 EU governments for failing their duty to protect these mammals.

Today, NGOs demanded that EU fisheries ministers face up to the consequences of their poor record on protecting the fish populations that underpin the health of European Seas. In a freshly published catch advice from The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), scientists advise that the iconic North Sea cod population is at such depleted levels, that fishing limits should be capped at 10 457 tonnes in 2020 - a 70% cut compared to last year. [1] 

Environmentalists have lodged an official complaint with the European Commission over illegal management of protected North Sea nature reserves, which have been left decimated by damaging fishing practices. Lawyers for WWF and ClientEarth, supported by other organisations, among which Seas At Risk, are calling on the Commission to challenge the Netherlands, the UK and Germany over a recently submitted proposed management plan for the Dogger Bank – a unique undersea conservation site, and home to sharks, porpoises and other iconic species – that contains multiple breaches of EU law.

Responding to recent reports of the latest emerging climate emergencies impacting the Arctic region, Dr Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, of which Seas At Risk is member, called on the global shipping industry to immediately reduce ship speed to cut CO2 emissions globally, and reduce black carbon emissions by switching to cleaner fuels in the Arctic [1,2]. She also called on the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Member States to immediately enact a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in Arctic waters [3].

This is the fourth year that Fundació ENT, together with Sciaena and Ecologistas en Acción, (members of Seas At Risk) has analysed the European Commission’s communications on EU fisheries in line with the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for the period 2015-2019. The detailed analysis raises concerns about the methodology used by the Commission and showing that the number of stocks identified as being in line with MSY in EU fisheries has been overestimated by 16% since 2015.

With time rapidly running out, now is the time for Europe’s citizens to add their voices and their names to the Save Our Seas petition. Now is the time to remind our politicians of their legal commitment to stop overfishing and deliver clean and healthy seas by 2020. Hundreds of thousands of citizens standing together cannot be ignored.

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