Greenpeace activists obstruct access to EU fisheries Council

Stitch-up by EU ministers could allow overfishing to continue until 2020

Press release - June 12, 2012
UPDATE - Greenpeace activists have ended a blockade outside the Council building started early this morning in Luxembourg ahead of a crucial meeting of EU fisheries ministers to discuss a reform of EU fishing rules. Activists lifted the blockade and converged on the main entrance of the Council to hold a vigil, after ministers were able to start their meeting.

Luxembourg / Brussels – Fifty Greenpeace activists today obstructed access to the Council building in Luxembourg to urge EU ministers to re-think a damaging backroom deal. The agreement between ministers could derail any chance of achieving worthwhile improvements to EU fishing rules under a once-in-a-decade reform, warned Greenpeace.


Activists locked themselves to heavy obstacles, including fishing buoys and an oversized fish bone made of steel. Some held banners reading "EU ministers, stop overfishing", while others distributed a five-point-plan for reform. The five-point-plan ( calls for actions that must be taken by EU governments to recover fish stocks and achieve sustainable fishing.

Greenpeace oceans campaigner Thilo Maack said: "Ministers are acting irresponsibly, endangering the future of our seas. The deal would allow a greedy industry to continue overfishing for the next decade, bank-rolled by millions in EU subsidies. We cannot allow this to happen and this is why we want ministers to find the guts to stop destructive fishing and reward those who fish responsibly."

In a surprising procedural move by the Danish EU presidency, the EU fisheries Council is due to agree a "general approach" to the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. This agreement could lock the negotiating mandate of European ministers even before they have consulted with the European Parliament, which is also in the process of reviewing plans to change EU fishing rules. Under EU treaty rules, the Parliament, the only elected EU body, must express its position ahead of the Council.

While the ministers acknowledge that action plans are needed to reduce the oversized European fishing fleet, the deal neither contains deadlines to reduce fishing power to sustainable levels, nor have ministers committed to target their action at those parts of the fleet that contribute most to overfishing. The deal does recognise the need for a phase-out of the controversial practice of throwing unwanted catches overboard (known as discarding), but the measures to achieve this are littered with loopholes. All in all, the deal falls far short of the necessary transition to sustainable, low-impact fisheries and would result in very little change in the way the fishing industry operates.

Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director Saskia Richartz said: "Ministers have cooked up a dire plan for the Earth's oceans behind closed doors. This reckless deal overseen by the Danish EU presidency is a spanner in the works that could derail the whole process of fisheries reform. This is no way to save fish or fishermen. The deal should be binned and the ministers should instead use the next six months to agree sensible measures to recover fish stocks and cut the bloated EU fishing fleet."

In May, the Parliament's environment committee overwhelmingly supported strong measures to recover fish stocks, promote environmental protection of the marine environment and reduce fishing pressure while supporting sustainable fishing (see: The fisheries committee, which is leading on the file for the Parliament, will vote in early October.

Contacts in Luxembourg:
For European media, Saskia Richartz – Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director: +32 (0)495 290028,
For German-speaking media, Thilo Maack – Greenpeace oceans campaigner: +49 (0)171 8780 841,
For French-speaking & Lux. media, Maurice Losch – Greenpeace oceans campaigner: +35 (0)621215024,
Daniela Pichler – Greenpeace press officer: +35 (0)2621252199,

For video footage:
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For photo stills:

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

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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.