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European fisheries vote undermines sustainable fishing targets

Environmental lawyers warn that today’s European Parliament vote approving a new fisheries plan for waters off western Europe will jeopardise restoring fish stocks to sustainable levels.

The Parliament has voted in favour of a deal on the Western Waters multi-annual plan (MAP), which ClientEarth legal experts say will allow overfishing of certain iconic species in waters off Ireland, the UK, Spain and France.
This jeopardises the goal of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and its aim to restore all fish stocks to sustainable levels.

ClientEarth lawyer Klaudija Cremers said: “This deal fails to adequately tackle the dramatic decline of our fish. It sets different standards of fisheries management for different species and undermines the goal of having sustainable fisheries for all harvested species. It also establishes fishing limits above the levels required by the CFP and fails to include mitigation measures to eliminate bycatch of seabirds, whales and dolphins.”

The Western Waters plan is the last of a series of fisheries management multi-annual plans that have been in development since 2014.

The multi-annual plans are intended to support the CFP by establishing long-term management of specific stocks for Europe’s seas, including the Baltic Sea, North Sea, Mediterranean and Western Waters.

Since the adoption of the first plan in the Baltic Sea in 2016, however, none of the plans have been in line with the legal requirements of the CFP.

Cremers added: “Today’s vote confirms that none of the regional multi-annual plans have complied with EU fisheries law to end overfishing in Europe. The situation has worsened with the adoption of each subsequent MAP with MEPs going as far as trying to delay the 2020 legal deadline for reaching sustainable fishing targets – one of the key requirements of the CFP. With European elections in a few months, people should make sure they vote for politicians who truly want to protect our seas. We are facing unprecedented challenges and risks of biodiversity loss. I hope future EU decision-makers will place the protection of our oceans at the forefront of their priorities. Our future depends on healthy oceans.”

European Parliament elections will be held from 23 May to 26 May 2019.

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