BirdWatch Ireland, Ireland’s largest environmental NGO, was extremely disappointed by the outcome of the EU Fisheries Council meeting in Luxembourg on Wednesday (June 13th). Instead of adopting more positive measures to end overfishing by 2015, the Council decided to be less ambitious and agree in principle to ending overfishing, but perhaps not until 2020. The general approach includes a delay of a proposed discard ban, with one date given for target species and another for discard species, a delay in ending overfishing and a delay in adhering to scientific advice on maximum exploitation rates of already diminishing stocks.
Dr. Sinéad Cummins of BirdWatch Ireland’s Conservation Team said, "Numerous scientific and marine experts have flagged the problems of overfishing at current rates, concluding that by 2048 there will be no more fish to catch in most of the world’s oceans." She added that, "Fisheries must be regulated properly so that fish are not caught at a faster rate than they can reproduce and so that fishing techniques do not cause significant harm to marine ecosystems."
Alan Lauder, Chief Executive of BirdWatch Ireland, commented, "EU fisheries ministers have so far failed to show courage and break with existing failed policies. Instead, they have chosen to continue their record of mismanagement by delaying the end of overfishing in the EU, guaranteeing yet further harm both to ecosystems and to those people who depend on sustainable, viable fisheries for their livelihoods."
BirdWatch Ireland, along with the 166 strong European membership of OCEAN2012, is now looking to the European Parliament (and to the Plenary Vote by MEP’s in November) to support a Common Fisheries Policy reform that delivers a healthy marine environment and viable fishery-dependent communities.