Underwater banner reading "Marine Reserves Now!" next to octopus in Menorca, Spain. Greenpeace is calling for a global network of marine reserves covering 40 percent of the world's oceans.
If the European Fisheries Council were a private enterprise, its
executive directors would have been sacked long ago for
inefficiency and negligence. The Council has failed to ensure
fishing sector profitability, environmental protection, sustainable
management, or the maintenance of fish stocks. "It's time for new
management," said Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner Iris Menn.
The activists constructed a wall in front of the building's
main entrance bearing the message "Shut Down until Fish Stocks
Recover." But in all likelihood, the Fisheries Council will simply
again cave in to pressure from the fishing industry, ignore the
warnings of scientists, and encourage the fisheries industry to
continue fishing itself to death.
The Council's consistently dismal record provides no basis for
expecting that this year's negotiations will introduce steps
towards environmentally-sustainable fisheries in which biodiversity
and fish stocks are maintained. And an environmentally
unsustainable fishery is not an economically sustainable
The Fisheries Council decides levels of total allowable catches
(TACs) on an annual basis. We believe that Europe's current
decision-making arrangements are in need of a fundamental
"The Fisheries Council has been an utter disaster for
fisheries," said Greenpeace EU Marine Policy Advisor Saskia
Richartz. "Unless changes are made and power is ceded to Europe's
Environment Ministers, Europe's fisheries face a biodiversity and
Since the early 1980s, incompetence on the part of the Fisheries
Council has resulted in an alarming decline in fish stocks in
European seas. Year after year, Europe´s Fisheries Ministers have
ignored scientific advice and recommendations from the European
Commission in repeatedly agreeing levels of TACs that have
destroyed the health of fisheries and the biodiversity of Europe's
seas. A recent study, commissioned by the European Commission's
Directorate-General for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, suggests
that European fisheries are amongst the most unsustainable and
least profitable in the world.
We believe that future decisions on fishing activities in
European seas should be subject to greater public scrutiny, and
must include the following:
- Member States must create a network of large-scale marine
reserves: highly protected areas off-limits to all extractive and
destructive activities, including fishing. The network of reserves
must be sufficiently large to sustain species and ecological
processes over time. Research indicates that between 20 per cent
and 50 per cent of sea area should be protected in this way. The
deadline by which Member States had to complete such a network
passed almost a decade ago, in 1998. Member States, however, have
continued to reap short term fisheries benefits without complying
with the Community's conservation laws;
- All total allowable catches must be set at or below the
scientifically recommended levels. For all fish stocks outside safe
biological limits, fishing pressure must be reduced to very low
levels and should be increased slowly thereafter only when recovery
is under way. All stocks should eventually be managed below their
maximum sustainable yield; and
- Starting from next year, national allocation of the TACs, which
must be set in accordance with the above rules, should be made
conditional upon meeting EU marine conservation standards, and in
particular rules on marine protected areas.
At around 11:30 CET, all two hundred activists were arrested and
the wall demolished by Belgian police. The Fisheries Council will
no doubt carry on -- not doing their jobs.
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