Brussels, December 16, 2019:- As EU Fisheries Ministers gather today in Brussels to set fishing levels for the North East Atlantic for 2020, 13-year-old Farrah Delrue and 10-year-old Josephine Seton - representing current and future generations - presented European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius, and Minister Jari Leppa representing the Finnish Presidency of the Council, with more than half a million signatures from EU citizens who are calling for an end to overfishing by EU member states. EU Member states are required to end overfishing by 2020, under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) [1,2].

The European Green Deal acknowledges the important role of seas and ocean in the fight against climate and nature collapse. Whether it will manage to counter the relentless push for blue growth remains an open question, with concrete actions and targets yet to be solidified.

We have a new Commission with a mission. The speeches given by President von der Leyen and Executive Vice President Timmermans in the European Parliament on 11 December sounded genuine: the European Green Deal is about caring for planet and people. With its focus on efficiency, technology and innovation, however, the Deal risks a counter-productive ‘green growth’ narrative.

Message to EU Leaders: ending overfishing IS climate action! Responding to an urgent appeal from EU Citizens, five Ocean Avengers - lead by Poseidon, God of the Sea, swooped on Brussels this morning to deliver an urgent ultimatum to heads of state attending an EU Council meeting: “Take emergency climate action now! Instruct your fisheries ministers to end overfishing at next week’s EU AGRIFISH Council Meeting”.

Today President of the European Commission, Von der Leyen, presented to the European Parliament the Communication on the European Green Deal.

Dr Monica Verbeek, Executive Director of Seas At Risk said: “Compared to Mr Juncker’s 10 priorities for the Commission in 2014-2019, the European Green Deal looks like the Von der Leyen Commission took a quantum leap, putting climate and nature high on the agenda. We are concerned however that its ‘green growth’ focus seems to go against the European Environment Agency’s warning that Europe will not succeed in "living well within the limits of the planet" by continuing to promote economic growth.”

On 6 December, the Ocean Action day of the climate summit in Madrid (COP25), Seas At Risk, together with Our Fish, convened a group of ocean experts, including the UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, scientists and NGOs, to address how ending overfishing can mitigate climate change. They called for immediate action by the EU and governments worldwide to end overfishing in order to mitigate the impact of climate change on the world’s oceans.

A group of ocean experts, including the UN Special Envoy for the Ocean, scientists and NGOs convening for a COP25 event today in Madrid, How can Ending Overfishing Mitigate Climate Change?, have called for immediate action by governments worldwide to end overfishing in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the world’s oceans.

The European Commission said today that it will not take emergency measures this winter to tackle the tragic death of dolphins caught in fishing nets.  Last winter, around 1200 cetaceans – almost all identified as common dolphins – washed ashore along the French Atlantic coast. 85 percent of these dolphins died after being caught up in fishing nets.

A successful European Green Deal must protect the ocean, as was also made clear in an open letter by 50 NGOs to Ms von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission, Mr Michel, President-elect of the European Council and Mr Sassoli, President of the European Parliament and the recent Council Conclusions on Oceans and Seas.

On Tuesday 19 November, Ministers for European Affairs adopted a set of conclusions that stress that climate change is a direct and existential threat to life in oceans and seas globally. Member States unanimously agreed the need for immediate action against increasing threats to our ocean, seas and coastal areas and invited the Commission to put forward policy options.

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