Greenpeace activists obstruct access to EU fisheries Council Published: 12 June, 2012
Fifty Greenpeace activists have today obstructed access to the Council building in Luxembourg to urge EU ministers to re-think a damaging backroom deal in the CFP. The agreement between ministers could derail any chance of achieving worthwhile improvements to EU fishing rules under a once-in-a-decade reform, warned Greenpeace.
Activists locked themselves to heavy obstacles, including fishing buoys and an oversized fish bone made of steel. Some held banners reading EU ministers, stop overfishing, while others distributed a five-point-plan for reform. The five-point-plan (http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/en/Publications/2012/CFP-recover-reform-reduce-protect-police) calls for actions that must be taken by EU governments to recover fish stocks and achieve sustainable fishing. Greenpeace oceans campaigner Thilo Maack said: Ministers are acting irresponsibly, endangering the future of our seas. The deal would allow a greedy industry to continue overfishing for the next decade, bank-rolled by millions in EU subsidies. We cannot allow this to happen and this is why we want ministers to find the guts to stop destructive fishing and reward those who fish responsibly. In a surprising procedural move by the Danish EU presidency, the EU fisheries Council is due to agree a general approach to the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. This agreement could lock the negotiating mandate of European ministers even before they have consulted with the European Parliament, which is also in the process of reviewing plans to change EU fishing rules. Under EU treaty rules, the Parliament, the only elected EU body, must express its position ahead of the Council. While the ministers acknowledge that action plans are needed to reduce the oversized European fishing fleet, Greenpeace says the deal neither contains deadlines to reduce fishing power to sustainable levels, nor have ministers committed to target their action at those parts of the fleet that contribute most to overfishing.
Greenpeace states that the deal does recognise the need for a phase-out of the controversial practice of throwing unwanted catches overboard (known as discarding), but the measures to achieve this are littered with loopholes.
All in all, says the environmental organisation, the deal falls far short of the necessary transition to sustainable, low-impact fisheries and would result in very little change in the way the fishing industry operates. Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director Saskia Richartz said: Ministers have cooked up a dire plan for the Earths oceans behind closed doors. This reckless deal overseen by the Danish EU presidency is a spanner in the works that could derail the whole process of fisheries reform. This is no way to save fish or fishermen. The deal should be binned and the ministers should instead use the next six months to agree sensible measures to recover fish stocks and cut the bloated EU fishing fleet. In May, the Parliaments 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: http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/en/News/2012/Parliament-environment-committee-takes-a-stand-on-fisheries-reform/). The fisheries committee, which is leading on the file for the Parliament, will vote in early October.