Fisheries in the North Sea received a boost today, as the European Parliament voted for catches to be sustainable at all times under a new management plan.
The European Commission had called for unsustainable fishing to be allowed in certain circumstances, which would have undermined EU fisheries law, risked stock depletion or collapse, and been bad for fishermen and consumers in the long term.
ClientEarth lawyer Flaminia Tacconi said: “This is a big step in the right direction for the North Sea, as the European Parliament has confirmed we must continue to strive for the 2020 legal deadline for all fishing to be sustainable. In resisting pressure to water down EU fisheries law, it sent a strong signal to industry, consumers and national governments. Lower ambitions now would lead to sharp shocks in the very near future, so we applaud the Parliament’s commitment to sustainable seas.”
The Parliament also voted for all fish species in the North Sea to fall under the multi-annual management plan, and for the management target for all these stocks to be sustainable. This followed the recommendations of ClientEarth and many other stakeholders.
The vote also makes recreational fishing with a significant impact on stocks – like sea bass – subject to the same sustainable fishing levels as commercial fishing.
The European Parliament has voted today for a strong report and needs to defend it in negotiations with the Council and the Commission. The three institutions will now enter trilogue, after which the final form of the North Sea multi-annual plan will be agreed. It will come into force early next year.