The Beacon

Victory! EU Moves Towards Overhaul of Fisheries Policy

Bottom trawler at Sant Carles de la Rápita, Spain ©Oceana

Today the Fisheries Committee of the EU parliament voted to radically reform its fisheries management policies, for the better. After 18 months of negotiations the body voted to put in place new measures that would effectively end overfishing and greatly improve the way the EU manages its fisheries, the third largest in the world.

This marks a true turning point for the EU, one of the poorest managed, most overfished regions in the world. In recent years, the majority of its scientifically-assessed fisheries have been found to be overexploited, which is no surprise given that it is also home to a heavily subsidized and extremely powerful fishing industry that is estimated to be two to three times larger than what sustainable fishing limits would allow.

Among the new reforms to the law that governs fisheries in the EU, what is known as the Common Fisheries Policy, Oceana is especially excited about the following changes:

  • An obligation to set catch limits above maximum sustainable yield levels by 2015, in order for stocks to recover by 2020
  • A clear ban on discards with proceeds from the landing of unwanted catches reverted to a fund to be used for data collection and control
  • An obligation for the fishing industry to contribute to the costs of data collection and control
  • A funding freeze to fishers that do not comply with fishing rules, as well as a funding freeze to Member States that do not achieve the objectives set in EU fishing legislation
  • An obligation to adjust fishing capacity to reflect the new catch limits and a thorough assessment of the fishing capacity of Member States
  • The creation of a network of fish stock recovery areas

Executive Director of Oceana in Europe Xavier Pastor was exultant after the vote, saying:

“Today, we, EU citizens, have broken the EU governments’ tradition of overexploiting fisheries resources and destroying our natural marine heritage in favour of short-term interests that have put the industry in decline. Today, we have a first hopeful look towards a future where fish stocks are sustainably managed and coastal communities’ livelihoods are guaranteed by plentiful seas.”

Oceana has been fighting for these changes for years and we are nearing the finish line. The new reforms now go to a vote before the entire European Parliament early next year. Learn more about the great work our European office is doing.


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