Over 100,000 voices call on EU to support low-impact fishing

Petition delivered as last round of negotiations on EU fisheries reform begins

Press release - May 29, 2013
Brussels – As a final round of negotiations to reform EU fishing rules began Tuesday evening in Brussels, Greenpeace delivered over 100,000 paper boats signed by people from around Europe in support of low-impact fishing and a fundamental reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Negotiators representing EU fisheries ministers, the European Parliament and the Commission received around 25,000 folded paper boats and 90,000 online boats, just before attending what is expected to be one of the final joint meetings to attempt to reach a compromise deal on the new CFP.

From L to R: European Parliament rapporteur Ulrike Rodust MEP receives paper boats from Greenpeace EU director Jorgo Riss with EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki and Irish presidency representative ambassador Tom Hanney.


The paper boats are being collected in ports across nine different countries as part of a grand European tour by Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise in support of small-scale fishermen [1]. The tour began in March and will end in London on 9 June.

Greenpeace EU director Jorgo Riss said: “This ship tour and countless other campaigns have shown that there is a massive wave of public support for Europe to end overfishing. Final negotiations to hammer out a deal on EU fisheries reform will now take place behind closed doors and it’s important that politicians don’t forget what is at stake. They must end the senseless overexploitation of our seas, recover fish stocks and set a course that favours low-impact fishermen. If they don’t, then all ocean life will be irreparably damaged and no-one will be able to make a living from fishing anymore.”

The paper boats were delivered to the Irish EU presidency, represented by ambassador Tom Hanney, the European Parliament negotiator, MEP Ulrike Rodust, and EU fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki.

Greenpeace supports a target for fish stock recovery by 2020 at the latest, a trimming of the fishing fleet to sustainable levels with priority access to fishing grounds for low-impact fishermen, and financial penalties for countries that fail to implement the rules.

In a vote in February, the Parliament overwhelmingly supported an overhaul of the rules which have led to decades of overfishing and a decline of the European fishing industry [2]. On the other hand, EU ministers – in particular from France and Spain – have resisted meaningful reforms and ignored the plea of low-impact fishermen [3].

Small-scale vessels make up around 80% of the EU fishing fleet, but low-impact fishermen are struggling to make a living on the very limited share of quotas they have access to [4].


[1] The paper boats are being collected in Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Spain, France and the UK. The virtual paper boats on https://myboat.gp are from several other EU countries, including Germany, Belgium, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Denmark, Austria, Poland, Sweden, Ireland and Portugal.

[2] According to the European Commission, around two thirds of European fish stocks are currently fished beyond sustainable levels (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:52012DC0278:EN:NOT). One third of European fishing jobs have been lost in the last decade (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=SPLIT_SEC:2011:0891%2851%29:FIN:EN:PDF).

[3] Council tables weak deal on EU fisheries reform, Greenpeace press release: http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/en/News/2013/Council-tables-weak-deal-on-EU-fisheries-reform/.

[4] In November 2012, small-scale fishermen from across Europe signed a joint declaration calling for a fair fisheries reform: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BzJMQ8kN2XRLWXUzVXpocDkzeXc/edit.


Contacts: Mark Breddy – Greenpeace EU communications: +32 (0)496 156229,

For breaking news and comment on EU affairs, follow: 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.