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ClientEarth Communications

29th May 2018

Fisheries Policy
Fisheries & Seafood
Wildlife & habitats

North Sea agreement makes a mockery of EU fisheries law

EU fisheries will suffer a huge blow as the European Parliament voted today to approve the proposed North Sea multi-annual plan.

The deal on the table allows overfishing under certain conditions, in direct contravention of the aims of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). It also contradicts the position adopted by the European Parliament in autumn 2017.

ClientEarth lawyer Flaminia Tacconi said:

“This is a political deal that fails to put the future of European seas and industry first. It weakens EU law by allowing overfishing, includes different standards of fisheries management for different species and undermines the aim of having sustainable fisheries for all harvested species. This risks population collapse and devastating knock-on effects for fishermen, shoppers and the environment."

In September 2017, the European Parliament agreed on its position and began trilogue negotiations with the European Council. Unfortunately, its progressive position was eroded during the talks, leaving an agreement that fails to deliver long-term, ecosystem-based management for the North Sea.

Multi-annual plans are supposed to fulfil the aims of EU fisheries law using regionalised fisheries management that takes a long-term approach. Today’s agreement allows EU countries to keep overfishing under certain conditions, risking the sustainability of North Sea ecosystems now and in the future.

We have already seen how the Baltic Sea multi-annual plan allowed overfishing of stocks on the verge of collapse. EU countries through the Council and the European Parliament must get on track and adopt multi-annual plans in line with EU fisheries law.

The North Sea Multi-annual Plan will now become law. Flaminia Tacconi added: “In future, the European Parliament must back multi-annual plans that follow the Common Fisheries Policy, respect EU environmental law, and support environmentally and economically sustainable fisheries for EU industry.”