Marinet Special – EU Fisheries in Crisis : Politicians are wilfully “breaking the law”

This Marinet Special looks at whether the EU countries and their Fisheries Ministers (The Fisheries Council) are complying with the legal requirements established by the 2014 reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Prior to 2014 the CFP, administered by the Fisheries Minister and the EU Commission, was notorious for overfishing, and for setting catch levels which exceeded scientific advice (ICES) in a very large number of cases.

With advent of the reformed CFP in 2014, involving for the first time the EU Parliament, it was agreed that the CFP should be placed on a sustainable basis which means that annual catch levels (known as ‘total allowable catches’ or TACs) should accord with scientific advice in order to enable fish stocks to be rebuilt to safe and sustainable levels.

This policy requires setting fishing limit at ‘maximum sustainable yield’ (MSY), and the scientific advice for these MSY levels is provided by the fisheries scientists in the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

This policy is a legal requirement of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy.

Since 2014, the reality has proved very disturbing. In the case of Northern European fish stock the Fisheries Ministers set catch levels (TACs) for 2015 for 96 stocks (involving 28 species). 60 of these stocks were given catch levels beyond scientific advice, and only 36 according to (or below) scientific advice. Thus Fisheries Ministers of the EU acted illegally.

In the case of the Baltic Sea fish stocks, of which there are ten stocks, the Fisheries Ministers set catch levels for 2015 which exceeded scientific advice in 5 cases. The Fisheries Ministers have recently met to set catch levels for 2016, and this time they have exceeded scientific advice in 8 out of 10 cases. Thus not only are EU Fisheries Ministers acting illegally, but their observance of the law is worsening.

In the case of deep-sea fish stocks, of which there are 16 stocks governed by scientific advice, the Fisheries Ministers set catch levels for 2015 which exceeded scientific advice in 11 of those 16 stocks. Not only is this illegal, but it is also very serious ecologically because deep-sea stocks breed very slowly and so overfishing impacts these stocks particularly adversely.

This Marinet Special provides the evidence and access to the research which substantiates the above figures. In the main, this evidence has been complied by The New Economics Foundation who note that if EU fish stocks were fished sustainably, as required by the 2014 reform of the CFP, then stocks could be rebuilt to provide food for an additional 160 million EU citizens, provide an extra Euro 3.2 billion in revenue, and 100,000 new jobs.

Therefore not only are EU Fisheries Ministers acting illegally, but also very stupidly.

One has to ask the question, why?

Marinet Chair, David Levy, writes:

Serial Overfishing by the EU Ministers — A Case to Answer, but Who Will Bring it to Court?

This is a reflection on the New Economics Foundation paper: Landing the Blame: Overfishing in the Baltic 2016.

All coastal countries in the EU finally approved the Reformed (2014) Common Fisheries Policy which aims to restore fish stocks above levels capable of producing MSY by 2015 (nearly over) and by “2020 for all stocks”.

So why is it scientific advice has been sidelined by closed door negotiations which have breached the ‘total allowable catch’ (TACs) for many fish stocks in the Baltic Sea?

The answer is that no country is accountable, and so their ministers brazenly ignore the only avenue of restoration which is the scientific advice.

What’s more, all of the Baltic TACs are apportioned without any statistical tonnage being allocated to Russia. So the figures presented by NEF will be significantly worse than presented when their activities are taken into account.

This audit of TACs will not happen so long as the management of fisheries are so maladministered, with no hope of an open and accountable system.

When will some country, some agency or organisation have the courage to expose this fraud in a court of law?

It leaves the situation out of control, in the hands of an industry that has driven their livelihoods into unscrupulous hands of factory industrial ships with no enforcement or law to bring the situation under control.

The Reports and Evidence:

NEF, Landing the blame — overfishing in Northern European waters (2015 TAC catch levels): Click Here

NEF, Landing the blame — overfishing in deep-sea waters (2015 TAC catch levels): Click Here

NEF, Landing the blame — overfishing in the Baltic Sea (2015 TAC catch levels): Click Here

NEF, Landing the blame: overfishing in the Baltic Sea 2016, (2016 TAC catch levels): Click Here

The NEF Blog, Who’s allowing overfishing in the Baltic Sea?
www.neweconomics.org/blog/entry/whos-allowing-overfishing-in-the-baltic-sea

also,

Greenpeace, The good, the bad and the ugly: a ranking of EU countries’ progress to achieve sustainable fishing (2015 TAC catch levels):
www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/en/Publications/2015/EU-countries-fail-to-promote-low-impact-fishing

Greenpeace Methodology, a ranking of EU countries’ progress to achieve sustainable fishing (2015 TAC catch levels): Click Here


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