Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Fishing Limits Set Too High Again by Council of the EU

Animals
Fishing Limits Set Too High Again by Council of the EU
An important fishing port of the French Atlantic Island Ile d'Oleron is Port La Cotinière. Robert Schüller / Flickr

As their annual end-to-the-year meeting closed on Dec. 13, the 28 fisheries ministers who sit on the Council of the European Union again set some fishing limits for Atlantic Ocean and North Sea stocks higher than scientists had advised and higher than the European Commission had proposed. Council deliberations went through the night and officials have not yet made all the details available on how 2018 fishing limits were calculated.

As in previous years, participants in the Council meeting announced that good progress had been made towards achieving the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) deadline to end overfishing by 2020. We can only hope the figures bear out this optimism when a full analysis comparing the decisions to scientific advice is completed.


Disappointing decisions

For some stocks, we already know the 2018 fishing limits are above scientific advice. In some cases there are indications that proposed levels of fishing were inflated during the meeting as participants haggled over deals on specific stocks at the expense of sustainability. As a result, it seems likely that a number of stocks will be overfished next year, although it's not yet clear if the proportion of limits set too high will be larger or smaller than those agreed to for 2017, when 55 percent of limits were above scientific advice.

The Council's habit of setting limits above expert advice year after year is becoming increasingly indefensible as the CFP's 2020 deadline to end overfishing approaches. With clear scientific advice and EU law originally setting a 2015 deadline, overfishing should already have been a thing of the past, and fisheries ministers don't have many more chances to get these decisions right.

Report shows slow progress towards 2020

In November, an analysis of these decisions over the past five years, produced by Poseidon Aquatic Resource Management Ltd. and funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, concluded that ministers needed to make much faster progress towards ending overfishing to deliver on their commitments. The commission's official Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries reached a similar conclusion in its 2017 report.

The new CFP enshrined in law the requirement to end overfishing by 2015 where possible and by 2020 for the most difficult cases, where incremental changes might be necessary to avoid "seriously jeopardis[ing] the social and economic sustainability" of the EU fishing fleet. The Council has not provided publicly available evidence on any cases for which it considered such delays necessary.

Coming soon: A closer look

Part of the detective work Pew will now undertake to assess progress towards the deadline will include asking for such evidence and for publication of any new "scientific advice" that was used in the deliberations. This will help us ascertain whether the Council's familiar pattern will lead to a sadly familiar outcome or if 2018 is the year that fisheries ministers break the cycle of short-termism to make meaningful steps to end overfishing.

Andrew Clayton directs The Pew Charitable Trusts' efforts to end overfishing in North-Western Europe.

Ningaloo Reef near Exmouth on April 2, 2012 in Western Australia. James D. Morgan / Getty Images News

By Dana M Bergstrom, Euan Ritchie, Lesley Hughes and Michael Depledge

In 1992, 1,700 scientists warned that human beings and the natural world were "on a collision course." Seventeen years later, scientists described planetary boundaries within which humans and other life could have a "safe space to operate." These are environmental thresholds, such as the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and changes in land use.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less

Trending

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a video speech at the high-level meeting of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22, 2021. Xinhua / Zhang Cheng via Getty Images

By Anke Rasper

"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Show Less
New Delhi's smog is particularly thick, increasing the risk of vehicle accidents. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP via Getty Images

India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?

Read More Show Less
A bridge over the Delaware river connects New Hope, Pennsylvania with Lambertville, New Jersey. Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Read More Show Less