Less talk, more action on global overfishing

International conference calls for urgent reduction of world’s fishing fleets

Press release - March 14, 2014
Brussels – Ministers from some of the world’s largest fishing powers, including the EU, the US and Japan, gathered at a high-level international conference in Greece, reiterated commitments to reduce global fishing capacity and to ensure accurate information on fishing is readily available, including through the creation of a global record of vessels (1). However, Greenpeace warned that it is high time for governments to turn words into effective action to ensure a healthy future for fisheries and fishermen around the world (2).

Greenpeace activists in front of the EU-flagged Margiris super trawler in Melbourne in 2013. The Margiris is the world's second largest fishing boat. It receives EU subsidies and has plundered fishing grounds across the globe.

Excessive fishing capacity drives overfishing and illegal fishing, displaces coastal communities, causing environmental harm and making fishing fleets economically unviable. The EU fishing fleet is able to catch two to three times more fish than is sustainable in most fisheries (3).

Greenpeace EU fisheries policy adviser Justine Maillot said: “For too long developing countries in Africa and elsewhere have borne the brunt of bloated EU fishing fleets. Major fishing powers like the EU should take the lead in this global effort to restore the health of our seas by managing the ability of the fleets to fish, in line with the state of fish stocks. In turn, developing countries must ensure that they develop their fishing capacity in a way that is sustainable, benefit their coastal communities and is based on low-impact gears and best available practices.”

Following the completion of a major EU fisheries reform in 2013, which strengthened rules on fleet management, EU governments should put in place effective measures to reduce the fishing capacity of their fleets without further delay. 

EU countries should start by scrapping the largest and most destructive industrial fishing vessels, initiating a shift towards small-scale low-impact fishing, which is more environmentally sustainable, creates jobs and supports local communities.

Greenpeace International oceans policy adviser Sebastian Losada said: “We must reverse the current trend of overfishing around the world: better management of fishing capacity is critical and long overdue. Governments must ensure that excess fishing capacity is removed and not just dispatched to new fishing grounds.” 

Notes to editors:
(1) The conference was organised in Thessaloniki by the European Commission under the auspices of the Greek presidency of the European Union. The conference declaration, which also aims at improving data collection to assess stocks and fishing capacity, was signed by several countries including the EU, the United States, Japan, Colombia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

(2) Similar commitments have been made already years ago, but have not necessarily tuned into effective action. In June 1999, the FAO adopted the International Plan of Action (IPOA) for the Management of Fishing Capacity, whose immediate objective was for “States and regional fisheries organizations, to achieve world-wide preferably by 2003, but not later than 2005, an efficient, equitable and transparent management of fishing capacity”. A number of other global instruments and conferences have emphasized the same call, but global fishing capacity has continued to expand regardless.

(3) European Commission non paper “Reflections on further reform of the Common Fisheries Policy”, 2008.


Justine Maillot – Greenpeace EU oceans policy adviser: +32 (0)479 996 922,

Sebastian Losada – Greenpeace International oceans policy adviser: +34 (0)626 99 82 54

Greenpeace EU pressdesk: +32 (0)2 2741911,

For breaking news and comment on EU affairs: www.twitter.com/GreenpeaceEU

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.