Civil society, citizens, children, fishermen and politicians urge Fisheries Ministers to “get on board and end overfishing!” WWF analyses it will take more than 100 years to end overfishing!

Brussels, Belgium / May 14, 2013 – Cvil society, citizens, children, fishermen and politicians met in front of the Council building in Brussels yesterday, where Fisheries Ministers are havinf a two-day meeting, to urge them to put an end to 30 years of ocean mismanagement and “get on board to end overfishing!”

The reason for concern is a deadlock in political negotiations: the European Parliament endorsed a far-reaching overhaul of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by 507 to 137 votes in February, whilst the Council on the other hand, has been unwilling to propose any kind of acceptable compromise.

Two out of three fish stocks in European waters are considered overfished. Ambitious reform of Europe’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) could reverse this situation over the next 10 years. However, core elements of the reform package relating to discards, subsidies and stock recovery are under dispute. As some countries, including France, Spain and Poland, are reluctant to to find common ground with the Parliament on key issues of the reform, negotiations over what shape future EU fishing laws should take may collapse.

In addition, a new scientific analysis from WWF reveals recovery of European fish stocks will take more than 100 years under current proposals by EU Fisheries Ministers.

Parliament wants to reduce fishing activity to allow stock recovery by 2020, with stock size and catches managed according to the principle of ‘maximum sustainable yield’ (MSY). WWF analysis suggests implementation of Parliament’s ambitious proposals, could result in the recovery of three-quarters of overfished European stocks within the next 10 years.

In contrast, Fisheries Ministers want to reduce fishing pressure gradually without any binding measures before 2020, resulting in an uncertain century-long recovery process.

Recovery of European fish stocks will take more than 100 years under current proposals by EU Fisheries Ministers.

Recovery of European fish stocks will take more than 100 years under current proposals by EU Fisheries Ministers. Image source: Matthew Hoelscher / Flickr

“Procrastinating until 2020 would sanction continued overfishing,” says Roberto Ferrigno, WWF’s Common Fisheries Policy project coordinator. “Ministers risk losing perhaps the last opportunity to ensure Europe once again has healthy and economically viable fisheries.” Currently, European fisheries produce only about 60 percent of what could be landed if stocks were allowed to recover.

“No law can end overfishing in one fell swoop but Ministers appear to be actively sidelining stock recovery”, says Roberto Ferrigno, WWF’s Common Fisheries Policy project coordinator. “For the sake of fishermen, coastal communities and the health of our oceans, Ministers must set targets for the fastest possible recovery. 100 years plus is too long.”

“We are calling on the fisheries ministers to back fish stock recovery by 2020, reduce fishing capacity in accordance with agreed guidelines and support financial penalties for countries that fail to implement agreed rules and abandon loopholes that weaken the proposed discard ban. Ministers are not being asked to do the impossible; many fishing nations outside Europe have outlawed overfishing and worked to rebuild their fish stocks.”, said the NGOs.

“Sustainable fishing is possible but governments need to reform the rules to stop destructive overfishing. The low impact fishing that we practice is the future”, said Gerry de Ruiter – a Dutch fisherman from the new LIFE (Low Impact Fishermen in Europe) network .

The European Commission and Parliament, as well as millions of EU citizens, fishermen, businesses and chefs who rely on healthy fisheries, support this reform and want to see an end to the misuse of taxpayers’ money and improvements in enforcement and fisheries control.

“Artisanal fisheries represent 80% of fisheries and the majority of fishing jobs in Europe. If nothing is done to stop overfishing, careers linked to artisanal fisheries will likely disappear, which would be disastrous for our fishing activity and jobs,” said Christian Decugis, a fisherman from the South of France and a founding member of “MEDARNET”, a Mediterranean artisanal fishermens platform.

The upcoming Fisheries Council meeting on May 13-14th may be the last chance Ministers have to collaborate with Parliament, revive the CFP reform process, deliver meaningful targets for stock recovery, and end overfishing.

WWF’s fish stock analysis can be downloaded at: http://awsassets.panda.org/downloads/wwf_analysis_recovery_eu_stocks.pdf

Source: WWF