Our complaint triggers EU Ombudsman fishing quotas investigation

The European Ombudsman has officially announced the start of an inquiry following our complaint against the EU Council’s lack of transparency over fishing quotas.

Last month, we 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 today, 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 our complaint, our lawyer Anne Friel working for the Environmental Democracy team 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.”

According to a recent report on the status and rebuilding of European fisheries, 69% of the assessed 397 stocks (including fish and other species) were still subject to overfishing in the last year with available data.

 

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Thomas Millot