sunset over the sea for story saying huge blow for EU seas as MEPs back disastrous technical measures

Huge blow for EU seas as MEPs back disastrous new fisheries rules

New fishing rules proposed today by MEPs are a huge blow to sustainable fishing in the EU, because of their total lack of concrete targets and legal deadlines. If introduced, this would not only affect the wider marine environment, it would also threaten juvenile fish and spawning grounds, meaning future fish stocks might be jeopardised.

Members of the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries (PECH) undermined EU environmental protection by voting against coherence with other environmental laws like the Birds and Habitats Directives, and international nature protection agreements. They also changed established sustainability rules without scientific justification, and introduced exceptions for the Mediterranean despite the fact that it is already heavily overfished.

ClientEarth lawyer Flaminia Tacconi said: “This is disastrous for industry, consumers and our seas, missing a major opportunity to create rules that would improve fisheries management and help reduce the impact of fishing on the marine environment in the EU. With this vote, MEPs in the PECH Committee have shirked their responsibility to make fisheries sustainable.”

Technical measures are the rules for where, when and how fishing can take place. These measures are fundamental to controlling the impact of fishing on stocks and marine ecosystems. If designed correctly, they should play a key role in achieving some of the main aims of the Common Fisheries Policy, in particular:

  • Restoring and maintaining fish stock above levels capable of producing the maximum sustainable yield (MSY);
  • Implementing an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management;
  • Minimising the impacts of fisheries on the wider environment;
  • Avoiding unwanted catches and gradual elimination of discards and;
  • Achieving coherence with EU environmental legislation.

The only positive outcome is that EU Parliament, as the voice of EU citizens, will now vote in plenary on the new report. The plenary vote will be the basis for the negotiations with Council and Commission in trilogues.

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Sebastian Voortman

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