London, 15th November 2019. The lack of progress and low ambition shown at this week’s round of negotiations to reduce shipping’s contribution to the climate crisis is deeply concerning and disappointing, the Clean Shipping Coalition (CSC) has said. Two years after agreeing its initial greenhouse gas strategy, a meeting of the UN maritime agency, the IMO, did little more than review options already on the table and gave far too much time to technical measures that will deliver too little too late.

In the first major vote of the new European Parliament's Committee on Fisheries, its 28 members have today decided to reopen the floodgates of overfishing in Europe. (1) By 20 votes against 6 (and 2 abstentions), they confirmed the catastrophic position adopted by the former Parliament in April 2019 (2). Among other things, this position reintroduced public aid for building new vessels, although such subsidies were banned in 2004 because of their direct role in overfishing. 

On the eve of the latest round of UN ship climate negotiations at the International Maritime Organisation in London, a new report published by Seas at Risk and Transport & Environment has highlighted how slower ship speeds would massively reduce the damage shipping is causing to human health, nature and the climate.

On April 2019, the former European Parliament adopted a disastrous position on the next European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF, 2021-2027) that, if finally adopted, would further damage the future of our ocean and fishers.

In Europe, waste fishing gear (e.g. nets and ropes) are among the 10 most common marine litter items found on beaches, accounting for 27% of the total, according to the European Joint Research Centre. Fishing gear is made of plastic and has a short lifecycle, while waste management and recycling of fishing gear is very scarce, with few incentives and only limited systems in place at ports. This is exacerbated by the fact that fishing gear is not (yet) designed for reuse and recycling, and clean-up activities and targeted recycling projects fail to prevent further leakage into the sea.

Plastics are convenient and undoubtedly make our lives easier. They are cheap, light, durable and resistant to water and oil. What we often forget, however, is that they are a long-lasting material so when we use them to make products intended to have a very short life span – maybe even single-use - we are creating an unsustainable cycle. Our indiscriminate use of plastic has created a global waste management crisis whose consequences are now evident. Mountains of plastics float in the oceans and harm marine life, microplastics end up in our food and drinks, and even in our bodies. Recycling is often touted as the solution – but is it a real and viable solution?

European NGOs ClientEarth, Sciaena, Seas At Risk, The Fisheries Secretariat, and Our Fish react to this year’s proposal from the European Commission for 2020 fishing quotas in the North-East Atlantic, saying it finally takes some important steps in the right direction by proposing long overdue cuts for several vulnerable stocks. However, the NGOs also stress that this should have happened a long time ago, and that the proposal does not go far enough to restore all stocks above sustainable levels in line with the requirements of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and meet the now imminent 2020 deadline to end overfishing. (1)

With a new European Commission taking office in the coming weeks, the time has come to step up our ambition to save our blue planet. Based on its 30 years’ experience, Seas At Risk provides guidelines on the urgent steps needed to close the ongoing action gaps and move towards making our oceans healthy and more resilient to climate change.

Following news that the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council (AGRIFISH) has today set five out of ten fishing limits for fish caught in the Baltic Sea, far above the EU fisheries legal requirements for sustainable fishing levels in 2020, conservation NGOs have expressed their outrage, accusing EU governments of acting with no regard to the law, and ignoring the ongoing overfishing and devastation of the Baltic Sea’s ecosystem. 

The Special Report on the Ocean and the Cryosphere, released today by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), makes for grim reading. The ocean is the life-support system for our planet. It pumps nutrients around the globe, helps to regulate weather patterns and produces half of the oxygen we breathe. By absorbing 90% of the excess heat in the atmosphere and 30% of the CO2, it has so far protected us from the worst effects of the climate crisis. 

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