ClientEarth launches legal action against EU over unsustainable fishing quotas
Legal action is to be brought against all 27 EU countries over the setting of unsustainable fishing quotas for 2022, two years after a deadline to end overfishing.
Under the EU’s common fisheries policy, over-exploitation of fish stocks was supposed to end in 2020 but more than 40% of all commercial stocks in EU waters were unsustainably fished last year according to official monitoring data.
The green law group ClientEarth filed a request on Friday asking the Council of the European Union to review the catch limits set by EU fisheries ministers for the north-east Atlantic in December 2021.
If it is refused, the green watchdog has said it will file a case at the court of justice of the EU later this year.
‘We are taking legal action to stop EU ministers consistently allowing rampant overfishing,’ said ClientEarth’s fisheries lawyer, Arthur Meeus. ‘These short-sighted policies are putting at risk the future of our fishing industry and the survival of coastal communities.
‘Poorly considered fisheries policy is also undermining the fragile balance of our ocean – one of the biggest carbon sinks of the planet – and its capacity to mitigate climate change. If ministers don’t follow the science and protect stocks, the price will be paid not only by fish and fishers but by all of us.’
ClientEarth’s action is being filed under new access to justice rules granted last year and marks the first time that all 27 EU fisheries ministers have been legally challenged on this issue.
The group is also preparing legal action against the catch limits established for shared EU and UK fish stocks that were agreed at the same time, Meeus said.
Cod stocks are in a particularly precarious position. The North Sea has lost 80% of its cod populations since the 1970s, according to official data.
Ewen Bell, the UK’s member of the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (Ices) advisory committee told the Guardian that the EU’s cod quota last year was set ‘just over 7% higher than the scientific advice.’
As a result, stocks are likely to fall below the ‘trigger point’ at which stringent action should be taken to prevent depletion, he said.
Cod populations in the North Sea, Irish Sea and particularly the Celtic Sea are all in a reduced state, Bell added. ‘In the Celtic Sea, under the current circumstances, the prognosis doesn’t look very good for that stock,’ he said.
The EU’s catch limits for 2022 ignored scientific advice that no cod at all should be fished from the Celtic Sea, the ocean west of Scotland and Kattegat, according to fisheries experts.
‘The objectives of the common fisheries policy are quite clear and they were not reached by 2020,’ said another marine scientist, Lisa Borges, a marine scientist who sits on the European Commission’s expert advisory board.
‘I think that many of the Tacs [total allowable catches] were set above scientific advice because of the short-term perspectives of ministers – as usual – in these negotiations,’ she added. ‘They were under short-term pressures and there were short term costs for their industries.’
European Commission and Council of the European Union officials have been approached for comment.
(News Source -Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Times Of Nation staff and is published from a www.theguardian.com feed.)
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