At the June Fisheries Council meeting, EU Fisheries Ministers outrageously backed out of their international commitment to end overfishing by 2015 and chose to oppose the Commission’s proposals that would result in more sustainable fisheries.

At the June Fisheries Council meeting, EU Fisheries Ministers outrageously backed out of their international commitment to end overfishing by 2015 and chose to oppose the Commission’s proposals that would result in more sustainable fisheries.

In an open letter sent ahead of the June EU Fisheries Council meeting, Seas At Risk and the Fisheries Secretariat have called on Ministers to support an array of urgently needed measures to protect fish stocks when they discuss the Commission’s proposal for setting fishing limits for 2012.

EU Environment Ministers meeting earlier today have given only half-hearted support to the Commission’s Biodiversity Strategy, sending a worrying signal regarding the chances of achieving their commitment to halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020.

This year’s theme focuses on “Youth: the Next Wave for Change”. In light of this, Seas At Risk are challenging all comers of all ages to discover the world's oceans online and learn a new language too.

Due to continued overfishing, some fish stocks are now at perilously low levels, but it was not always like this: Fish Week 2011 looks to explore how the marine environment used to be healthier, how overfishing has changed this and how the EU’s CFP reform is an opportunity to go Back to the Future.

A United Nations (UN) meeting on oceans biodiversity has heard how poorly high seas fishing nations have performed in implementing their commitments to ground breaking resolutions adopted in 2006 and 2009, designed to protect biodiversity in the deep sea.

The European Commission has launched a consultation on catch quotas for 2012, asking for the first time for opinions of all stakeholders including the general public.

The online consultation runs until mid July and is specifically targeting the opinions of European Citizens on the way in which levels of fishing effort and fishing quotas are set in relation to scientific advice about sustainable fishing.

The consultation focuses on two major recurring problems. The first is the mismatch between scientific assessments which determine sustainable catch levels and the on average much higher final catch limits decided by fisheries Ministers who regularly ignore the science. Commissioner Damanaki wants to tighten the rules so that decisions are closer to the advice.

The second issue is what to do when scientific predictions and recommendations are uncertain because the available data is insufficient. The Commission proposes that in these cases the precautionary principle
is applied and TACs are reduced by 25% or more if necessary until the concerned Member States come up with data for scientists to work with.

The Commission consultation paper highlights that while some EU fish stocks have improved, the majority is still considered overfished. The EU has committed to end overfishing and to manage all fisheries at levels enabling Maximum Sustainable Yield by 2015. With this goal fast approaching, efforts must be stepped up.

At the launch of the consultation, Commissioner Maria Damanaki for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries reminded the press that bringing all overfished stocks back to sustainable levels will benefit people and the environment. More fish in the sea will help to bring back profitability to European fishing communities and ensure that less effort and time is needed at sea to bring back the same amount of catch, resulting in less impact on the marine environment, reduced by-catch of unwanted species, less fish discarded and less CO2 emitted.

Seas At Risk will respond to the consultation and inform fisheries Ministers of its opinion.

The umbrella group ‘NGO Shipbreaking Platform’ is calling on Bangladesh to refuse entry and dismantling of the Probo Koala ship – the vessel that became infamous in the case of 528 tonnes of toxic waste being dumped in the Ivory Coast in 2006.

The NGOs are concerned that the ship will be broken down in an unsafe and environmentally damaging manner because of expectations that the Probo Koala contains many tonnes of hazardous asbestos, PCBs, toxic paints, fuel and chemical residues.

In 2010, a Dutch court found the multinational company Trafigura guilty of illegally exporting toxic waste from Amsterdam in the Probo Koala.

Two months after the waste was dumped in Abidijan, the largest city in the Ivory Coast, over 107,000 people had been registered as having been affected by it. According to the Ivorian authorities, 16 people died as a result of their exposure to the waste.

Seas At Risk member organisation, the North Sea Foundation is a member of the NGO Shipbreaking Platform.

For more information

Presenting her own report on illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing at the European Parliament, MEP Isabella Lövin has called for the European Commission to strengthen its battle against IUU fishing.

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