fishing hook on sea

Huge blow for EU seas as MEPs back disastrous technical measures

New fishing rules debated today in the European Parliament would be disastrous for fishing in the EU, because their lack of concrete targets and legal deadlines undermines efforts to make fisheries sustainable.

ClientEarth lawyer Flaminia Tacconi said: “The rules as they stand are catastrophic for industry and consumers. They miss a major opportunity to improve fisheries management and cut the impact of fishing on EU seas. Smaller fish will not be properly protected because of this vote, which could affect fish stocks in areas like the North Sea. MEPs have dodged their duty to make fisheries sustainable and to protect our seas.”

Technical measures govern where, when and how fishing can take place. These measures are essential to reducing the impact of fishing on stocks and ecosystems. If designed correctly, they should play a key role in achieving some of the main aims of the Common Fisheries Policy, including:

  • Restoring and maintaining fish populations above sustainable levels;
  • Managing fisheries using an ecosystem-based approach;
  • Minimising the impact of fisheries on the environment;
  • Cutting unwanted catches and getting rid of wasteful discards; and
  • Working alongside EU environmental legislation

One positive from today’s vote is that MEPs confirmed that electric fishing is a prohibited fishing method in the EU. They voted to curb the use of dangerous pulse trawling, which uses electrical pulses to catch fish, but causes damage to other species in the marine environment.

The final shape of the legislation will now depend on the European Parliament, the Council and Commission. If many of the rules in today’s report make it into law, it would be a disaster for EU seas and seriously threaten marine life. If decision-makers don’t radically change their position, the only way to avoid these rules coming into force is for them to be withdrawn completely.

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