NGOs call for the Fisheries Council to end overfishing

Published on December 8, 2017

On 11 & 12 December, the Fisheries Council will meet to agree fishing quotas in the Northeast Atlantic and North Sea for 2018. Ahead of this meeting, the Fisheries Secretariat, together with Seas At Risk, Pew, Oceana, ClientEarth, have called on EU Fisheries Ministers to follow current scientific advice and end overfishing.

The five NGOs sent a joint recommendation to Fisheries Ministers, highlighting the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy. The recommendations included a ban on European eel fisheries, as requested by 20 NGOs in a November 2017 letter.

The NGOs also called on Ministers to correctly implement the landing obligation. The increase in quotas to account for fish that were previously discarded but are now supposedly landed, should not result in overfishing. However, these so-called “top-ups” have been granted even in fisheries where illegal discarding continues. Such a practice has been criticised by Norway in their recent negotiations with the EU for setting quotas on their jointly shared stocks.

Finally, the NGOs have asked for greater transparency and accountability in the setting of fishing limits. The current decision-making process lacks transparency, with Ministers holding an annual two-day closed session at which late-hour agreements regularly exceed the limits set out by both scientific experts and those proposed by the Commission. These practices were criticised in a report by Transparency International last year. Ministers point to the socioeconomic need for these higher quotas but provide no supporting evidence, nor have they shared their plans to fulfill the legal obligation to end overfishing by 2020.

The letter is accompanied by annexes detailing how the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy might be achieved and specific quota recommendations for a range of stocks.