Over 350,000 signatures from EU citizens calling for an end to overfishing were presented to EU Ministers meeting today to discuss fishing limits, the last meeting before the 2020 deadline set to end overfishing.
The signatures collected in three petitions since October last year, were presented by 12-year old Tahina Mongodin with the words “this is our future” during a formal red carpet ceremony outside the Agrifish meeting venue, the Justus Lipsius building.
Last week, Our Fish asked supporters to write to Commissioner Karmenu Vella and EU fisheries ministers, asking them to end overfishing during the December Council meeting. Over 7,000 emails have already been sent to Commissioner Vella, and fisheries ministers in Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and Portugal.
This year’s meeting is critical because it is the last chance for EU Ministers to get serious about the issue before the 2020 deadline set to end overfishing.
“With just one year left until the 2020 deadline to end overfishing, fisheries ministers must pay to the message from more than 350,000 EU citizens and over 30 European and international celebrities: break the annual cycle of setting quotas above scientific advice, and deliver the healthy fish stocks you committed to”, said Rebecca Hubbard, Programme Director for Our Fish.
The reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy in 2013 included a commitment to end overfishing by 2015, or by 2020 at the latest, however the latest assessment shows that over 55% of North Sea and Atlantic fish stocks are still overfished – experts have said that at this rate, the EU will not meet the 2020 deadline.
The introduction of the ban on discarding fish at sea, or throwing unwanted fish back (called the Landing Obligation), is also being rejected by industry interests, who for the most part have refused to change their discarding behaviour.
Concerns about ongoing discarding of overfished and vulnerable species mean that Ministers must also address the need for radically increasing monitoring and control, if the limits and rules that are set, are to be respected and complied with, according to Our Fish.
Ending overfishing is the most practical and achievable thing EU ministers can do to help oceans under pressure – it will ensure healthier fish stocks, which is the basis of secure incomes, thriving coastal communities, and a flourishing marine environment.
“There is no good reason to continue delaying action – in fact, in many cases, it is the political delays of the past that have put fish stocks in the difficult situation they are in today. Our oceans, and our current and future generations, deserve better leadership,” Hubbard added.