EU ministers sell out on promise to end overfishing

Press release - December 16, 2015
Brussels – Early on Wednesday morning, EU ministers reached a disappointing agreement on 2016 fishing quotas that endorses continued overfishing of stocks in the Northeast Atlantic and the North Sea [1].

French artisanal fishermen in the Atlantic. © Lagazeta /Greenpeace

Commenting on the outcome of the Council, Justine Maillot, Greenpeace EU oceans policy adviser, said: "Fisheries ministers failed to comply with EU rules, selling out to industry at the expense of stocks like cod and sole, and without providing justification for the continued overfishing. At the very least now, ministers must minimise the havoc fishing can cause by allocating quotas preferentially to fishermen using low-impact fishing methods".

Although some fishing quotas were reduced in line with scientific advice (e.g. herring), ministers have set fishing limits well above the level scientists recommended for important stocks, like cod in the Irish and Celtic Seas and wider Atlantic, hake in waters off Spain and Portugal, and sole in the Bay of Biscay and the Eastern Channel.

Despite rules requiring the Council to justify decisions that lead to overfishing [2], it appears that EU ministers did not provide any evidence that recommended quota reductions would have seriously jeopardised the social and economic sustainability of the fishing fleets involved.  

In the coming weeks, EU governments will distribute the national quota shares to fishermen. Despite the requirement to allocate quotas on the basis of environmental, social and economic criteria [3], all EU countries have thus far failed to assess and distribute quota based on the impacts of their fleet. This puts fishermen that use selective, low-impact fishing methods at a disadvantage.



[2] Recital 7 and Article 2 of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) Regulation

[3] Article 17 of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) Regulation


Justine Maillot - Greenpeace EU oceans policy adviser: +32 (0) 479 99 69 22, 

Greenpeace EU pressdesk: +32 (0)2 274 1911,

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