Fisheries ministers play for time on stock recovery –

Fisheries ministers play for time on stock recovery Published:  14 May, 2012

European fisheries ministers are meeting in Brussels today to discuss a major reform of EU fishing rules.

The main items on the table are the recovery of fish stocks to sustainable levels by the proposed target date of 2015, and spending priorities for subsidies under the fisheries and maritime fund.

For decades, ministers have set fishing quotas far above levels recommended by scientists. Because of this, the EU is late in taking steps to rebuild fish stocks in line with the internationally agreed 2015 deadline [1]. Some ministers now argue that the deadline is unrealistic and use this as an excuse to delay action further, said Greenpeace.

Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director Saskia Richartz said: “The ministers of France, Spain and Poland have been among those eager to kick the 2015 fish stock recovery target into the long grass. But the worse the state of the stock, the sooner measures to end overfishing need to be put in place. Delaying the tough decisions that can once again make our seas healthy and plentiful will only draw out the pain longer.”

EU fisheries ministers are expected to agree a common approach to fisheries reform at an extraordinary meeting set for 12 June in Luxembourg.

Last week, the Parliament’s environment committee overwhelmingly supported strong measures to recover fish stocks, promote environmental protection of the marine environment and reduce fishing pressure while supporting sustainable fishing (see: The fisheries committee, which is leading on the file for the Parliament, will vote on 10 July.

To help guide the negotiations on the revision of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, environmental organisations have published a simple five-point-plan for reform:

[1]The international commitment, agreed ten years ago at the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development (see:, is to maintain or restore fish stocks to levels above the so-called “maximum sustainable yield.”