Press release: 14 May 2019

EU Ombudsman to investigate EU Council’s lack of transparency around fishing quotas

The European Ombudsman has officially announced the start of an inquiry following ClientEarth’s complaint against the Council’s lack of transparency.

Last month, ClientEarth lawyers lodged a complaint against the Council after many years of unexplained fishing quotas set above the scientific advice for sustainable fishing limits.

In its annual press conference this afternoon, the European Ombudsman highlighted that “meetings of ministers in Brussels are completely behind closed doors and yet make important decisions for the sustainability of fishing stocks and of jobs in fishing communities around Europe”.

Reacting to the news that the Ombudsman has opened an inquiry in response to ClientEarth’s complaint, ClientEarth lawyer Anne Friel said:

“This is a clear warning to Member State governments before they start negotiating fishing quotas for 2020: the public has the right to know if their governments are pushing for unsustainable quotas that jeopardise the health of our oceans.

“Every year, European fisheries ministers are setting unsustainable fishing limits in closed-door meetings. This lack of transparency makes it impossible for the public to hold governments to account.

“The Council’s meeting documents must be made available in a timely manner and provide relevant information to help the public understand what their governments are doing. Being more transparent would also incentivise ministers to follow advice from scientists rather than caving to industry demands. Year after year, European ministers have failed to end overfishing. Without urgent action, the EU will breach its legal obligation to ensure sustainable fishing limits by 2020.”


About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a charity that uses the power of the law to protect people and the planet. We are international lawyers finding practical solutions for the world’s biggest environmental challenges. We are fighting climate change, protecting oceans and wildlife, making forest governance stronger, greening energy, making business more responsible and pushing for government transparency. We believe the law is a tool for positive change. From our offices in London, Brussels, Warsaw, Berlin and Beijing, we work on laws throughout their lifetime, from the earliest stages to implementation. And when those laws are broken, we go to court to enforce them.