Positions & Papers

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

On 6 November we have produced an updated and consolidated document: Joint NGO priorities on the revision of the EU Fisheries Control System

The following factsheets present the NGO priorities on the revision of the EU Control Regulation:

Joint NGO priorities on the revision of the 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

Joint NGO proposal to EU Ministers regarding European eel

December 7, 2018

In a proposal to Ministers ahead of the December Council meeting several organisations have called for the full implementation of the ICES advice for the critically endangered European eel and suggested improvements regarding the fishery closure periods that were implemented last year.

Too many vessels chase too few fish – report on overcapacity in the EU

December 4, 2018

A new report from the Fisheries Secretariat shows that EU rules regarding fishing capacity are not being followed in the Baltic region. Member States have fudged their figures, obscuring which fleet segments and vessels fish on which stocks and the European Commission has not revised its guidelines in order to ensure clarity, as recommended by its own advisory committee. There is clear evidence that overcapacity has been used to influence quota negotiations at the EU Council, however, despite EU subsidy funding being based on there being no overcapacity the Commission has not taken action to follow through. Article 22 of the EU Common Fisheries Policy requires Member States to adjust the fishing capacity of its fleet to the available fishing opportunities. Overcapacity should be identified and addressed, in order to achieve a better balance with the harvested stocks, avoid overfishing, reduce incentives for discarding and other illegal practices, and avoid the socioeconomic problems caused by too many vessels competing over limited quotas. However, the system put in place to address overcapacity in 2013 fails at just about every step, according to the report. You can read our news story on the report here We have also produced national summaries for Denmark, Germany and Poland.

Joint NGO recommendations for EU-Norway agreement on fishing opportunities in 2019

November 19, 2018

In the briefing and annex joint recommendations have been produced ahead of the annual agreement between the EU and Norway concerning fishing opportunities for shared stocks. Fully implementing maximum sustainable yield management, as well as the landing obligation and ensuring greater transparency are among the recommendations, along with detailed TAC recommendations provided in the annex. Details from the 2018 negotiation can be found here.

Council briefing on Deep Sea TACs – joint NGO paper

November 9, 2018

In the letter and policy annex sent to Ministers and Member States ahead of the November Council and which deep sea TACs for 2019 and 2020 were set NGOs called for the EU to fully implement its policy of ending overfishing. This was the first time fishing opportunities were set after the 2020 deadline. A series of policy recommendations for both the most vulnerable stocks and also improvements to data collection, monitoring and transparency were made.