Despite a legal commitment to end overfishing in European waters by 2015, EU fisheries ministers agreed to forgo legal, scientific and moral obligations, and continue legalised overfishing in the North Sea and Atlantic, according to campaign group Our Fish.
During the annual AGRIFISH Council meeting, EU fisheries ministers negotiated fishing limits for more than 120 fish stocks in the North Sea and Atlantic.
In its initial summary statements, the council announced that total allowable catch (TAC) for 53 fish stocks are now in line with scientific advice (a sustainable catch rate), up from 44 in 2017 and equivalent to approximately two thirds of the stocks that have sufficient scientific data to assess maximum sustainable yield (MSY).
Our Fish programme director Rebecca Hubbard said: “While there appears to have been some progress towards reining in overfishing, EU fisheries ministers displayed an unsurprising lack of ambition to deliver sustainable management for all EU fish stocks.
“With just two years left until the 2020 deadline, fisheries ministers need to invoke some political courage to act on behalf of EU citizens, and the future health of European fish stocks – not just the interests of a few big industry players.”
Sascha Müller-Kraenner, executive director of Environmental Action Germany, said: “One of the biggest problems we are facing in European seas is that despite a landing obligation coming into force, discarding isn’t sufficiently controlled.
“When discarding isn’t controlled, and top-ups are added to total allowable catches, stocks are not safe”.