Joint NGO response to the Commission consultation on the setting of fishing opportunities for 2020 under the CFP

August 21, 2019

In response to the Commission Communication on fishing opportunities for 2020, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Oceana, ClientEarth, Seas At Risk, FishSec and Our Fish have provided a joint response.

We urge the Commission to ensure that the TACs proposed and set for 2020 meet the objectives and requirements of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), ensure that the Landing Obligation (LO) is effectively implemented, and commit to a process of proposing and setting fishing opportunities that is transparent to citizens and civil society organisations.

In our recommendations to the Commission we call on them to follow scientific advie in all of its TAC proposals for 2020, for both target and bycatch stocks. Moreover, we highlight the need for correct implementation of the LO and provide seven policy improvements. In addition, we call on the Commission to improve the transparency and accountability of the TAC setting process.

Joint NGO letter to new Parliament: “EU needs committed and ambitious MEPs to save our ocean”

July 15, 2019

In a letter to newly elected MEPs serving in the European Parliament for the next five years, environmental organisations BirdLife, ClientEarth, The Fisheries Secretariat, New Economics Foundation, Oceana, Seas At Risk, and WWF called on politicians to deliver on 8 concrete EU commitments that protect marine life, habitats and biodiversity. The letter highlights that "the EU already has the laws, obligations and commitments. Now we call on you to move from words to actions. We count on your determination in this challenge."

These commitments include "4. Fully implement the Common Fisheries Policy. 5. Eliminate Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and strengthen fisheries control and enforcement; introduce fully documented fisheries. 6. Save the Mediterranean - the most overfished sea of the world - by reducing the excessive fishing effort, minimizing fishing impacts on vulnerable species and habitats and substantially improving the culture of compliance in the region."

Joint NGO letter to European Commission – urgent action needed to stop cetacean bycatch

July 10, 2019

A coalition of 27 NGOs have written to the European Commission calling on them to implement emergency measures in order to protect cetaceans, such as dolphins and porpoises, killed and captured during unselective fishing operations. These bycatch killings contravene the EU Habitats Directive and the Common Fisheries Policy which aim to conserve biodiversity and ensure that fishing has a minimal impact on non-target species. The letter states: "Bycatch is the greatest threat to the conservation of cetaceans, globally and in European waters. Commercial fishing is the last human activity targeting wildlife on a grand scale where the killing of other large sapient wildlife occurs on such a regular basis.

Article 12 of the Habitats Directive mandates that Member States establish a system of strict protection for cetaceans prohibiting all forms of deliberate capture or killing of specimens of these species in the wild and that conservation measures are taken to ensure that bycatch does not have a significant negative impact on these species. The Habitats Directive also mandates that Member States take appropriate steps to avoid the disturbance of the cetacean species for which Natura 2000 areas have been designated. To date, however, Member States have failed both to implement and enforce a general system of measures to reduce bycatch and to manage cetaceans’ Natura 2000 sites to make them safe spaces contributing to restoring these populations to favourable conservation status. As a result, cetacean populations in Europe are under great stress."

Joint NGO recommendations on Baltic Sea fishing opportunities for 2020

June 10, 2019

In October 2019, EU fisheries ministers will agree on fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2020. This will be the final Council meeting where fisheries ministers have the opportunity to end overfishing of Baltic Sea species by 2020, as is legally required by the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

We urge the European Commission (EC) to propose, and the Council to agree on, Total Allowable Catches (TACs) in accordance with the following recommendations:
  • Set TACs not exceeding scientifically advised levels based on the Maximum Sustainable Yield(MSY) approach for all stocks for which MSY-based reference points are available.
  • Where MSY-based reference points are not available, to not exceed the precautionary approach catch limits advised by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).
  • Set TACs not exceeding the FMSY point value specified in the Baltic Multi-Annual Plan (MAP), following the ICES MSY Advice Rule when spawning stock biomass (SBB) is below the MSY Btrigger reference point.
  • Take into account the lack of implementation of the Landing Obligation (LO) when setting TACs, and ensure that TACs are respected by increasing monitoring and control of the LO.
Read the NGO briefing here.

Joint NGO letter to European Parliament lead candidates

May 17, 2019

The environmental organisations BirdLife, ClientEarth, The Fisheries Secretariat, Oceana, Seas At Risk, and WWF are calling on the newly elected members of the European parliament to take “committed and ambitious leadership to save our ocean”. In a joint NGO letter to MEP lead candidates to the European Parliament elections on 23-26 May 2019, NGOs highlighted the need for the European Union to provide committed and ambitious leadership to save our ocean. Referring to commitments made under the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Common Fisheries Policy, Marine Strategy Framework Directive, EU biodiversity strategy and Birds & Habitats Directive we call on the EU to implement the laws and obligations to which it is committed. NGOs urge the fulfillment of eight crucial actions over the next five years in order to ensure the future of European seas and our collective future is protected. The European Green party replied stating "The European Green Party is glad to inform you that the Green Lead Candidates, Ska Keller and Bas Eikchout, commit on the crucial actions that you mention in your letter." The European People's Party replied saying "Combatting climate change and defending our environment are fundamental for our future. This is why fighting climate change is one of our election priorities....We would like to express our support for your work in defending our nature and oceans."

Joint NGO letter – Commission proposals on fishing opportunities for 2020

March 28, 2019

In the letter to the Commission regarding their proposals for fishing opportunities in 2020 the NGOs highlight that this is the last opportunity to meet the 2020 legal deadline to end overfishing.

The Commission has stated its ambitions to deliver on the CFP’s requirements regarding sustainable fisheries and progress has been made in the last decade to bring fishing mortality levels closer to scientifically advised levels.

According to the 2018 report from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), “many stocks remain overfished and/or outside safe biological limits, and [...] progress achieved until 2016 seems too slow to ensure that all stocks will be rebuilt and managed according to FMSY by 2020.” Our own analysis of the decisions demonstrates that, only one year before the 2020 deadline, more than 40% of TACs are still set higher than scientific advice.

It is therefore crucial that the Commission’s proposals for 2020 do not exceed scientific advice for any stock, in order to meet the CFP’s requirements. This will be particularly important as the Council adopts, for the first time, “effort quotas” under the Western Mediterranean demersal multi-annual plan. The Commission has a responsibility to send a strong signal that fisheries management in the Mediterranean – the most overfished sea – should now follow scientific advice.

Several international agreements require urgent progress toward fisheries sustainability, and the CFP built in a lengthy lead-in period to allow the EU to meet its 2020 deadline, after a reform in 2013 that was backed by unprecedented public support.

EU Control Regulation Review – factsheets

March 15, 2019

The following factsheets present the NGO priorities on the revision of the:

EU Control Regulation

Remote Electronic Monitoring





Small-scale fisheries

The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA)

These call on decision-makers to:
  • Ensure full compliance with the landing obligation;
  • Adapt the general control framework to the control of technical measures;
  • Maintain and improve the EU legal framework for enforcement and sanctions;
  • Mandate the use of cost-efficient tracking devices and the electronic reporting of catches and fishing operations for small-scale vessels;
  • Improve the control of recreational fisheries;
  • Improve traceability requirements;
  • Improve data management and sharing;
  • Ensure the monitoring and control of fleet capacity;
  • Effectively control fishing in restricted and marine protected areas;
  • Introduce transparency requirements;
  • Minimise the amendments to the EU IUU Regulation by staying within the scope of the Commission’s proposal and by strengthening only those provisions opened for review;
  • Revise the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) mandate.

Joint NGO letter to MEPs on the reintroduction of harmful subsidies for fleet renewal and vessel modernisation

February 27, 2019

This joint NGO letter highlights our serious concerns regarding some amendments tabled to the European Commission’s proposal on the post-2020 European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to reintroduce subsidies for fleet renewal and the modernisation of fishing vessels. We ask MEPs to maintain the current EU ban on such harmful subsidies, which has existed in the EU since 2004. Funding the renewal of the fleet, whether through the construction of fishing vessels or the acquisition of fishing vessels for new fishers, is a capacity-enhancing subsidy that is clearly against the international commitments of the EU. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal on the oceans, seas and marine resources (SDG 14) explicitly calls for the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing by 2020. The EU phased out aid for the construction of new vessels over a decade ago and is actively advocating for the prohibition of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing during negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO). Proposing amendments to re-introduce these types of subsidies undermines the objectives of the CFP to end overfishing, jeopardises the EU position in the ongoing negotiations over fisheries subsidies at the WTO, and sends the wrong political signal from the EU to political leaders around the world.

20 measures for 2020

December 15, 2018

Seas at Risk, an umbrella organisation of environmental NGOs across Europe, have written a letter to Environment Ministers proposing 20 measures that are needed to implement the EU's environmental obligations, supported by 35 organisations. "Clean, healthy and abundant seas by 2020. This is what European countries committed to achieve when they adopted the Marine Strategy Framework Directive in 2008. With little more than a year until the deadline, all countries of the European Union are failing on their legal obligation to ‘take all necessary measures to achieve Good Environmental Status of EU seas by 2020’ (Marine Directive, Article 1(1)). In August, the European Commission itself stated that we are unlikely to achieve Good Environmental Status of EU seas by 2020 unless Member States take more definitive action." These 20 measures would stop the degradation of our seas and prevent serious impacts to nature and society. The are using the hashtag #OurBlueLung to highlight the issue because our seas and ocean produce over half of the oxygen we breathe.

EU Fisheries Council 17-18 December. North Sea and Atlantic quotas – Joint NGO position

December 7, 2018

In our joint letter, policy annex and TAC recommendation annex The Fisheries Secretariat along with The Pew Charitable Trusts, Seas At Risk, Oceana, ClientEarth, and Our Fish have agreed joint recommendations ahead of the December Council at which TACs will be set for over 100 stocks in the North Sea and Northeast Atlantic.

The MSY obligation, all stocks managed with a sustainable fishing mortality in order to achieve biomass of Bmsy by 2020, is under serious threat of not being met. This is the penultimate Council meeting at which quotas will be set before the deadline.

We also make recommendations regarding TAC rollovers for 'statement stocks', as well as recommendations for stocks without a TAC.

In addition, we cover setting TACs in the context of the landing obligation and improving the transparency and accountability of setting fishing limits.

The Fisheries Council will conclude on 18 December