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Greenpeace och Coalition For Fair Fisheries Arrangements (CFFA)

"It's the eleventh hour. Do you know where your trawlers are, Mr. EU Minister?"

Pressmeddelande - 16 december, 2002
Greenpeace today urged EU Fisheries Ministers to stop deluding fishermen and themselves by taking firm action to drastically reduce fishing activities and to conserve fish stocks in EU waters and elsewhere.

Unless this is done effectively, the EU is putting marine ecosystems, fishing communities and global food security at risk by exporting its domestic problem throughout the rest of the world. Collapsing fisheries in EU waters and steady declines in the global catch should come as a wake up call to EU ministers and fishermen that short term political and economic interests must not continue to guide the reform of EU fishery policies.

"Many fishermen and politicians are in denial about the critical state of fisheries here and abroad," said Greenpeace Campaigner, Hélène Bours. "It's only a matter of time before we wipe out our few remaining viable fisheries and then proceed to wipe out everybody else's as well. It won't be only the small-scale fisherman who lose out to big operators - misguided policies will put at threat a billion other people who depend upon fish in their diet."

EU Ministers are gathering in Brussels for a weeklong session of meetings to debate the Common Fisheries Policy that will determine the scope and direction of EU fishing activities for the next ten years. As next year's quotas are also on the table, it promises to be a contentious meeting - a panel of scientific experts has called for a virtual shutdown of key fishing grounds (1). However, fishing leaders and politicians with an eye to the next election have predicted financial ruin for an already beleaguered industry, should the scientific advice be implemented.

Greenpeace fears that the unless immediate and firm action is taken, then fishing grounds in the North and Irish Seas and to the west of Scotland will collapse. Ministers should be building a set of sound, precautionary fisheries management policies, as well as firmly addressing critical issues of overcapacity and overfishing.

The environmental organisation recommends that the following actions to be taken:

-eliminate subsidies for the construction and modernisation of fishing vessels and the creation of joint ventures,
-redirect these subsides towards: - promotion of selective and low-impact
fisheries and - reduction of fishing capacity through scrapping programmes

In its subsidy programmes, the EU must consider qualitative critera, such as degree of bycatch leading to waste and discards, damage to the marine habitat and the employment provided to fishermen.

Greenpeace believes that these criteria should be used to shape EU fishing policy, rather than simply promoting the maximum of production at any cost. It will lead to less environmentally destructive fishing fleets, more abundant and diverse fish stocks and, consequently, coastal fishing communities with a future of hope rather than of despair.

"What we see happening in the EU waters is a microcosm of what will happen world-wide unless we get a handle on our own problems," said Beatrice Gorez from the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements. "We are encouraging the ministers to look long and hard at the consequences of their political decision-making this week. Do they want to see fisheries collapse here, and EU trawlers roaming the globe like a pack of predators: unaccountable and often lawless?"