European Parliament agrees to fishing practices that jeopardise 2020 sustainable fisheries targets
Following the highly controversial PECH Committee vote earlier this month, today, the European Parliament voted on the Multiannual Management Plan (MAP) for the EU’s Western Waters, in the Atlantic Ocean between Ireland and Portugal.
Key outcomes of today’s vote do not support sustainable fisheries governance and implementation towards the CFP 2020 targets, and instead continue the EU’s overfishing practices. Allowing fishing limits to be set above Maximum Sustainable Yield, the level at which fish stocks are able to recover to sustainable populations, jeopardises the recovery of fish populations in this region.
By failing to implement an ecosystem-based approach in fisheries management, the European Parliament has dismissed any obligation to avoid the accidental bycatch of protected species during fishing activities, to avoid and reduce catches of unwanted species, or to respect areas closed to fishing for fish populations to recover
Samantha Burgess, Head of Marine Policy at WWF European Policy Office said: “This management plan will not secure resilient fisheries, improve marine biodiversity, nor develop a sustainable blue economy in the region. As it stands, the plan fails to ensure that all fish populations, whether targeted for seafood or accidentally caught, will recover above sustainable levels, drawing the region closer to significant negative socio-economic and environmental impacts in the long term.”
Today’s vote was, however, successful in maintaining the 2020 deadline to achieve sustainable fishing, established within the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). With overfishing in 41% of the Western Waters’ assessed fish stocks, the decision to stand by the 2020 objective and not delay to 2023 as the PECH Committee had wanted bears significant implications to ensuring the environmental and socio-economic risks tied to unsustainable practices in the region are reduced.
The importance of scientific advice provided by international and independent bodies when determining fisheries management measures in the region was also recognised by today’s plenary vote. Scientific advice is essential to develop more sustainable fishing practices and increase transparency of fisheries monitoring, critical to ensure that sustainable fishing objectives are on track.
The Western Waters MAP was subject to rushed drafting and decision processes and today’s vote for additional flexibility on catch limits reflects the European Parliament’s refusal to align with the CFP 2020 objectives. In the upcoming trilogue negotiations between the European Parliament, the European Commission and Council of the European Union, WWF calls on all three bodies to respect the CFP objectives for the long-term socio-economic and environmental prosperity of fisheries in Europe.
Marine Communications Officer
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