Dear Minister

An open letter to ministers - time to end 30 years of fisheries mismanagement

Background - September 19, 2012
An open letter to ministers outlining just why it is high time to reverse 30 years of fisheries mismanagement.


To the fisheries ministers of Europe

Re: Last chance to end overfishing

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Dear Ministers,

At least three quarters of European fish stocks are overexploited and almost one-third of fishing jobs have been lost in the last decade alone. This is the result of overfishing and thirty years of mismanagement.

You and your predecessors have been entrusted with looking after one of Europe’s greatest natural assets by managing fishing activities. Yet, to appease short-term economic interests, you have pushed fisheries deeper into crisis and allowed a valuable public resource to be seriously eroded. This is the first generation in Europe that cannot enjoy local, sustainable seafood nor make a living from the sea.

As you debate how to improve fisheries management with the use of taxpayers’ money, we ask you to break this cycle of destruction and bring European fisheries back from the brink. We urge you to reduce the EU’s oversized and expanding fishing fleet and reverse the trend in shrinking fish populations.

  • Fishing capacity should be cut, starting with the most destructive vessels in the fleet;  
  • Fish stocks should be allowed to recover to levels above the maximum sustainable yield by 2015; and
  • Public money should be spent on measures that are in the public interest, such as protecting the environment, enforcing the laws of the Common Fisheries Policy, and assessing the state of fish stocks.

It is unacceptable to subsidise increases in fishing capacity, nor should you pay fishermen just to stay in port. And certainly, no money should be given to countries and fishermen that violate the rules. In times of austerity, the perverse use of fisheries subsidies and the cost of overfishing are brought into sharp focus: the only real benefits lie in the recovery of fish populations.

Yours sincerely,

Saskia Richartz

EU Oceans Policy Director


Download a PDF of this letter here.