Members of the European Parliament back extensive reform of EU fisheries policy

Press release - December 18, 2012
Brussels – The European Parliament’s fisheries committee has endorsed sweeping reforms of EU fisheries policy that could help bring back fish stocks from the brink and reverse decades of overfishing by a bloated EU fishing fleet, said Greenpeace.

19 December 2012

EU Fishing Quotas Action in Brussels © Eric De Mildt / Greenpeace


The Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) today supported an objective to recover fish stocks to sustainable levels – and the so-called maximum sustainable yield. They also recognised the excessive fishing capacity of the European fleet in relation to the state of stocks, and put forward measures to reduce it. Finally, MEPs backed measures to reduce discards, the wasteful practice of throwing unwanted dead or dying fish overboard.

Commenting on the outcome of the vote, Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director Saskia Richartz said: "The vote today marks a turning point after decades of complacency for overfishing. The European Parliament has injected some much-needed ambition in the reform of EU fishing rules and challenged European governments to follow suit. At this stage, fisheries ministers are the main obstacle standing in the way of the recovery of our oceans and a sustainable future for fishing. Greenpeace and small-scale fishermen from across Europe call on them to back strong measures to scrap overfishing, promote low-impact fishing and preserve our oceans for generations to come."

European fisheries ministers are also meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday to decide how much fish can be caught next year. The Commission and marine scientists have called for substantial reductions in catches to allow stocks to recover [1].

Representatives of small-scale fishermen and Greenpeace campaigners staged a joint demonstration outside the building where the quota negotiations are taking place. They displayed a 3D banner depicting a healthy sea emerging from under the pavement outside the Council building in Brussels. Artisanal fishermen from France, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium and Greece held banners, in different languages, reading: "Fishing quotas: take from the big, give to the small."

Small-scale fishing vessels (around 12 metres or less) make up about 80% of the European fishing sector, but are only granted a fraction of fishing quotas [2]. Last month, small-scale fishermen from across Europe signed a joint declaration calling for an equitable reform of the CFP [3].

Note to editors:
[1] Latest advice from the EU's main advisory body, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea:
[2] Facts and figures on the Common Fisheries Policy 2012, European Commission, page 12:
[3] (English) (French) (Spanish) (German) (Greek)

Saskia Richartz – Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director: +32 (0)495 290028,
Mark Breddy – Greenpeace EU communications: +32 (0)496 156229,

Photo and video footage of the protest: Hugo Duchesne: +33 1 80 96 97 56,
For breaking news and comment on EU affairs, follow us on Twitter: @GreenpeaceEU
For news from the demonstration, follow: #fairfishing

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.