Tuesday

14th Jul 2020

Magazine

EU fish wars ahoy

  • Chairman Chris Davies (Renew, UK): 'Atlantic waters look good, but the Mediterranean and Black seas are in a terrible state' (Photo: European Parliament)

EU seas will contain "more" and "bigger" fish five years from now if the European Parliament's fisheries committee (PECH) is to be proud of its legacy, according to its chairman, British liberal MEP Chris Davies. But a fight on post-Brexit fishing could divert attention from its core work, the committee's Dutch deputy chair, Peter van Dalen, warned.

"It's all about achieving sustainability - ending overfishing and rebuilding our fish stocks so that we have more fish in the sea and can give a long term secure future for our fishing industry," Davies (Renew, UK) said. EU authorities ought to "tighten controls" on fishing quotas and "stop the discarding of millions of tonnes of fish each year," he added.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The EU is meant to end overfishing by 2020, and 59 out of 81 assessed species were now returning to sustainable levels, according to "strict scientific advice", Davies noted. But "we're bound to miss the target, I fear," the MEP added. "Atlantic waters look good, but the Mediterranean and Black seas are in a terrible state," he said.

The European Commission and EU member states negotiate total allowable catches of fish each year in a process that dominates EU intervention in the €6bn-a-year European seafood sector, which employs tens of thousands of people, most of them in France, Greece, Italy, Spain, and the UK.

The tension between industry and environment could see clashes inside PECH on how to spend the €6bn European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, Davies warned.

There were "too many people in politics" in some EU states who wanted to "throw public money at the fishing industry ... subsidising new and more powerful vessels", as in the "bad old days", he noted. But that "helps to kill the industry and the coastal communities that depend upon it", Davies said.

The committee's Dutch deputy chair, van Dalen (EPP, Netherlands), agreed with the British MEP on the need for better "control" of the sector, saying that old EU rules were "too out of date". But Davies is to lose his PECH job when the UK leaves the EU, and van Dalen warned that Brexit could frustrate the committee's normal work.

Talk of EU fishing controls triggers strong emotions in British eurosceptics and the tabloid media, which cover the subject as if it was World War Two. The so-called 'Scallop Wars' in 2018 even saw violence when British and French fishermen rammed each other's boats and fired flares, and "future reciprocity, after Brexit, of fishing in EU and British waters", is set to be Pech's most divisive issue, van Dalen said.

Peti's European Parliament group coordinators are: Francisco Millan Mon (EPP, Spain), Clara Aguilera (S&D, Spain); Pierre Karleskind (Renew, France); Grace O'Sullivan (Greens/EFA, Ireland); France Jamet (ID, France); Ruza Tomasic (ECR, Croatia); and Joao Ferreira (GUE/NGL, Portugal).

This article first appeared in EUobserver's latest magazine, Who's Who in European Parliament Committees, which you can now read in full online.

Opinion

Crunch time to end overfishing in the EU

What happens when a difficult deadline hits? This is precisely what is being played out in EU fisheries as we approach the landmark legal commitment under the Common Fisheries Policy to end overfishing by 2020.

EU can't fish off Western Sahara coast, rules top court

The Western Sahara, annexed by Morocco, is off limits to a new fisheries deal between the EU and Morocco, following a verdict by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The current agreement runs out in July.

EU failed to end overfishing by 2020: lost opportunity?

Environmentalists denounce that the EU failed to comply with the legal obligation to end overfishing by 2020, putting at risk the sustainability of fish stocks by putting the interests of the fishing industry ahead of the health of its waters.

Magazine

Six priorities for human rights

Belgian socialist MEP Marie Arena is chairing the European Parliament's sub-committee on human rights. Her biggest challenge? Finding ways to reach objectives that cover an enormous spectrum of issues - from climate to child protection.

Magazine

EU must manage climate and industry together

For Romanian centre-right MEP Adina-Ioana Valean, the previous chair of environment committee and current chair of industry, research and energy (ITRE), climate and industrial policy-making must go hand-in-hand to bring sustainability and prosperity to Europe.

News in Brief

  1. Croatia opens for US tourists, defying EU ban
  2. Poll: only 61% of Germans would get Covid-19 vaccine
  3. UK to spend €788m on new UK-EU border control system
  4. Berlin wants first use of EU cyber sanctions on Russia
  5. Erdogan warns neighbours over hydrocarbon reserves
  6. Bulgaria: political crisis amid anti-corruption protests
  7. Pope and Turkish-German leader join Hagia Sophia protest
  8. France and UK create joint migrant intelligence unit

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

Magazine

Which parties and countries chair the EP committees?

Although the European Parliament tries to keep a geopolitical balance within the committees, the breakdown of the actual chairs of the committees by political party and nationality is uneven - with a clear under-representation of central and eastern EU countries.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. Poland's EU-battles to continue as Duda wins tight vote
  2. EU 'in-person' summit plus key data privacy ruling This WEEK
  3. Let's have positive discrimination for EU stagiaires
  4. We need to do more for our small and medium-sized enterprises
  5. Romania's virus surge prompts queues and new worries
  6. Michel lays out compromise budget plan for summit
  7. Border pre-screening centres part of new EU migration pact
  8. EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us