European Parliament votes in plenary session to end overfishing in the North Sea | Oceana

European Parliament votes in plenary session to end overfishing in the North Sea

Press Release Date: September 9, 2017

Location: Strasbourg


Anna Baxter | email:
Anna Baxter

Members of the European Parliament voted today in the plenary session on the North Sea multiannual management plan for fish species living near the sea bottom. The plan covers nearly one-third of all fish catches in EU waters, and includes species such as cod, haddock, whiting, sole, plaice and Norwegian lobster.

Oceana applauds the European Parliament on their ambitious decision to introduce truly sustainable catch limits levels in the new plan and to support the protection of fish stock recovery areas, to effectively put an end to overfishing in the region.

“The European Parliament has today demonstrated a real commitment to achieving sustainable fisheries by voting in plenary for a robust, long-term management plan for the North Sea. The plan can ensure an abundance of fish and can lead by example for future fisheries management plans,” said Lasse Gustavsson, Executive Director of Oceana in Europe. “We now require that the EU fisheries ministers follow suit and not make empty promises when it comes to the conservation of a natural resource that belongs to all of us. Politicians must finally put an end to overfishing and assure recovery of stocks,” added Gustavsson.

The North Sea hosts several of Europe’s most important fishing grounds with annual catches of 1.3 million tonnes. However, nearly half of the North Sea stocks are still overfished, including haddock and whiting. Scientists estimate that if managed sustainably, within the next 10 years the stocks have the potential to produce an additional 1.45 million tonnes of fish annually. For example, haddock and cod catches in the North Sea could potentially increase by up to 400%.

The European Union has a legal obligation under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) regulation to rebuild its fish stocks and to stop overfishing by 2020.

Oceana and several other NGOs have been calling for a more ambitious and robust plan that would address the shortcomings of the Baltic Sea plan, which still allows for fishing above sustainable levels. The plan is next due to be negotiated between the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the European Commission in a so-called trialogue and Oceana urges the three European institutions to agree on a plan which stands for sustainability.

In parallel to the policy work, marine scientists from Oceana have highlighted the importance of the North Sea for marine biodiversity and fisheries and recently concluded a two-month marine expedition covering 8700km in the waters of Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom.

NGOs priorities in the North Sea MAP

Learn more about the 2017 North Sea expedition