A recipe for disaster cooked up by EU Fisheries Ministers | WWF

A recipe for disaster cooked up by EU Fisheries Ministers

Posted on 21 December 2006    
WWf chef event
© WWF/ Ezequiel Scagnetti

Brussels, Belgium – Mocking scientific advice has become standard practice in the decisions made by the European Fisheries Ministers, says WWF. Once again, at the last EU Fisheries Council, the Ministers have set irresponsible fishing quotas for 2007.

Reducing last year’s cod quotas in the North Sea by only 14 per cent will accelerate the pace towards the specie’s commercial extinction. For the past fifteen years, political pressure has led to cod quotas being set at an average 30 per cent above the recommendations made by the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES). While ICES called for zero catch this year again, 19,957 tonnes have been agreed for 2007 cod catches. Another bad news for cod is the decision to reduce days at sea for the vessels by only 7 to 10 per cent, which will keep a high fishing pressure on the stocks.

“With the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in 2002, European Ministers had decided to put an end to short-term political opportunism. This Council decision shows that the ambitious framework agreed during the reform has now been reduced to an empty shell. Political horse-trading on quotas continues, while our oceans are facing a crisis, something both the Commission and the Fisheries Ministers have again chosen to deny”, says Carol Phua, Fisheries Policy Officer at WWF.

Ministers have failed to agree on a long-term management plan for plaice and sole, one of Europe’s most wasteful fisheries, where discards amount to 80 per cent of the plaice catches. Instead, only very limited quotas reductions have been agreed, with a 12.5 per cent for plaice and 15 per cent for sole.

As an extra gift to France and Spain, the anchovy fishery was re-opened, officially for “experimental” purposes. But with a massive fleet of 28 vessels from both countries allowed in the Bay of Biscay, there is little hope for the anchovy stock to withstand the pressure.

EU Ministers have accepted the Commission proposal to re-introduce electric fishing for the Dutch fleet in the North Sea. According to WWF, this destructive fishing practice could have highly damaging effects on sharks and rays, which are very sensitive to electricity, and yet uncalculated negative impacts on the marine ecosystems.

Notes to the editors 
• The average European citizen consumes around 22kg of seafood per year, in which cod plays a big part, as a popular and traditional dish. A consequence of the EU decision might be that a major cod consumer, such as the United Kingdom (absorbing 85 per cent of the EU cod catches per year), is possibly going to be deprived of its national dish, fish and chips. 

• Pictures of WWF’s chefs demonstration in front of the Council on 19 December are available on http://assets.panda.org/downloads/wwf_chefs_demonstration.zip
The images are copyright protected and can only be used to illustrate the related press release. Any other subsequent rights are not allowed and are subject to approval by WWF. This restriction includes that these pictures must not be made available to any third party, in particular it may under no circumstances be published on a public web site. Individual photo credits are mandatory.

For further information:
Caroline Alibert, WWF European Policy Office,
Tel: +32 2 740 09 36,
Mobile: +32 495 260 713,
E-mail: calibert@wwfepo.org

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