|Seas At Risk ↗
The EU Common Fisheries Policy aims to end overfishing by 2020 and reduce environmental impacts of fisheries. However, implementation by the 27 EU Member States has fallen short. While especially in the North East Atlantic less stocks are being overfished, the deadline to end overfishing by 2020 will not be met and overfishing continues. Meanwhile little has happened to address the wider environmental impacts of fisheries. 35% of the shelf area of European seas and even 86% of the assessed seabed of the North Sea and Celtic Seas is physically disturbed by bottom-touching fishing gear, and by-catch of marine mammals remains a major threat. In addition, Brexit presents an additional challenge, as many stocks that are shared by the UK and EU are currently fished by EU Member States in UK waters and the new UK fisheries legislation has a lower ambition than the CFP. As with every economic sector, the COVID-19 crisis has put the fisheries sector, in particular small-scale fisheries, under some pressure, fuelling arguments that more flexibility in environmental rules is needed. Fortunately, there is a growing level of ambition in the EU to restore and conserve the environment, including the ocean, as reflected in the European Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy that forms part of it. This provides opportunities to reduce overfishing, mitigate cetacean bycatch and limit bottom trawling. Ensuring fisheries measures to achieve this requires a coordinated EU-wide push, because EU fisheries legislation is decided by the EU Commission and (often) Parliament, as well as the fisheries ministers of the 27 EU Member States in the Fisheries Council. Seas At Risk and its member organisations will seize these opportunities in an EU-wide fisheries project, in which targeted advocacy at EU level is paired with national advocacy work and increased pressure on key decision makers, with a focus on Germany, France and Spain.