Friday

13th Dec 2019

EU ministers disregard scientific advice on fish quotas

  • Environmental groups are concerned the new quota will not do much to increase sustainability of fish levels (Photo: photo_gram)

EU ministers are allowing more fish to be caught in 2015 than scientists say is sustainable.

Every year, fisheries ministers meet to set quotas on the amount of fish that can be caught by European fishermen.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

They do so based on proposals by the European Commission, which since 2010 bases its suggestions on scientific advice.

On Tuesday (16 December), ministers agreed on the fishing quota for 2015.

The EU's fisheries policy was recently reformed and now includes a commitment to fish at sustainable levels.

The EU aims to achieve so-called 'maximum sustainable yield' (MSY) or the largest catch possible without depleting a species' stock.

The negotiations for 2015 were the first ones under the new rules.

However, MSY applies in 2015 “where possible, and by 2020 at the latest”.

And while environment and fisheries commissioner Karmenu Vella said that “science-based decision-making is increasingly becoming the norm rather than the exception”, he acknowledged that several ministers “were not in the position to follow our science-based proposals”.

Vella made his remarks in a late night press conference after the negotiations on Tuesday.

Conservationist organisation Oceana has calculated that “fisheries ministers ignored 56% of the scientific advice”.

The commission had for example suggested that the quotum for Norway lobster should go down by 14 percent in one area, compared to last year, but the ministers decided to increase it by 3 percent.

And while the commission had wanted a 64 percent reduction of cod captures in another fishing area, the ministers decided on 26 percent.

Without specifying how, Vella said that those member states ignoring scientific advice would “take the necessary decisions so as to avoid real disasters happening later on”.

The Italian fishery minister Giuseppe Castiglione said on behalf of all his colleagues that while the EU wants to protect fish from overfishing, it also wants to make sure fishermen do not go out of business.

The fishery policy “must really be based on environmental sustainability, however we also wanted to limit as much as possible the socio-economic impact” on the fishermen, Castiglione said.

Greenpeace has criticised the compromise and said ministers “failed to respect the new rules” on using scientific advice as a guide to set quota.

“It is unacceptable that many of the fishing quotas agreed today fail to end overfishing”, the environmental group wrote in a statement.

Meanwhile, fisheries ministers such as the UK's George Eustice told their citizens working in the fishing business that they were able “to secure the best possible deal to ensure sustainable fisheries and a strong UK fishing industry”.

“While fishermen had feared there would be major cuts, we were able to keep the same quota as last year for many species, in addition to important increases to the North Sea cod and haddock quota, which will benefit Scottish fishermen”, Eustice said according to the Guardian.

Opinion

Fisheries reform: Time to draw in the net

Achieving healthy fish stocks globally was a key challenge flowing from Rio+20 and will be a central litmus test for realizing an inclusive Green economy.

Opinion

EU to go digital to fight illegal fishing

The European Commission has announced that by the end of 2016 it will introduce a digital system to certify the legality of the fish imported into the EU, replacing the current paper-based system.

EU overpaid for fishing rights, auditor says

According to the European Court of Auditors, fish caught by European fishermen in the South Atlantic and Indian oceans cost almost €34 million more than necessary.

News in Brief

  1. Slovenia, Croatia ex-leaders highlight jailed Catalans
  2. Italian court tells Facebook to reopen fascist party's account
  3. EU extends sanctions on Russia until mid-2020
  4. UK exit poll gives Johnson majority of 86
  5. Orban: 'financial guarantees' to reach climate neutrality
  6. Merkel hopes EU leaders agree 2050 climate-neutrality
  7. Czech PM: nuclear energy needed for climate neutrality
  8. Hungary: Climate target is burden, EU should help

Opinion

Does Malta's Labour Party now belong in S&D?

The Maltese Labour Party is a curious creature. No minister, MEP, MP, president, or former president has yet criticised Joseph Muscat publicly and outright over the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Huge win for Conservatives in UK election
  2. Behind bars: a visit to an imprisoned Catalan politician
  3. Leaders agree 2050 climate neutrality - without Poland
  4. EU leaders cagey on 'Future of Europe' conference
  5. Pressure mounts to grill Malta's Muscat at EU summit
  6. Revealed: little evidence to justify internal border checks
  7. Europe needs to make mind up on relations with Africa
  8. Leaders face crucial EU summit for climate action

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us