The lack of scientific advice following a decision on next year’s fishing quotas among EU member states will continue to lead to over-exploitation of fish populations in EU waters as a result of BRACSIT next year.
After a meeting of EU ministers on Thursday morning, EU member states exceeded the fishing limit scientific advice at the end of a meeting with EU member states on Thursday morning, citing uncertainty over fishing rights after Brexit as a reason for violating restrictions on sustainable catches.
The Brexit-fuel debate over EU Northeast Atlantic fishing quotas among EU ministers means that the EU’s target of overfishing, set by law from 2013 to 2020, will now be missed.
This year, for the first time in the history of the European Union’s general fisheries policy, the EU was to set a “fully permissible catch” for aquatic fish, according to scientific advice. The idea was that when the exemption expired, the failed practice of returning healthy fish began, and in Brussels the fishing quota was determined by a long-term management plan, rather than an annual fight between ministers.
Instead, EU ministers rejected scientific advice and voted to vote in at least a quarter of the fishing quota compared to last year. After Brexit, the annual dispute over phishing quotas will continue.
EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginis Sinkevias described this year’s talks as “exceptionally challenging” but said progress was being made towards sustainable fishing across the EU.
He said: “We have come up with a total of eight allowable catches in line with that level which guarantees the most sustainable yield from these stocks. EU ministers have followed my recommendations on a precautionary approach to the nine fish catch quotas. This is a step in the right direction. The Commission’s proposal was extremely ambitious and I welcome today’s overall good results.
“We have been able to respond to the uncertainty surrounding Bresit and to ensure continued fishing for fishermen and women in all European Union. On January 1, 2021, Vessels can go to sea and the fishing sector can be assured that their business is recognized as a priority for the EU.”
Rebecca Hubbard, program director for the campaign organization Hourfish, said: “Brescit was an excuse for EU ministers to have extra food. This is very bad for sustainable fishing
Destructive practices such as trolling on the bottom will continue, and the management of important fishing in the North Sea may still be the subject of annual discussions between EU ministers and the UK. Promoters said the decisions would hurt the EU’s fisheries industry and long-term fishing fleet.
“Unfortunately, today’s result shows how far EU member states are from delivering on the promises of their citizens, our children who will inherit their decisions,” Hubbard said. “EU fisheries ministers are voluntarily entangled in this vicious cycle that does not help anyone, not the fish, the oceans, the climate or the fishermen.”
The ministers agreed on higher catches than electronic advice only for the population of the European Union, which is not affected by Braxit, as in the case of Polak and Bisco Bay alone.
The European Union has also set a share limit with the UK to allow fishing to continue for the first three months of 2021, with that “quote” to be distributed among EU member states in accordance with the existing pattern of relative stability. Scientists had suggested a 17% cut in most catches for 2021.
Promoters said it violated EU rules on fishing with scientific advice for 2020, but that future years could be better managed.
Andrew Clayton of Campaign Group’s Pew Charitable Trust said: “Although smaller than the general decision of the council in December due to uncertainty over stock market share, the results show that the commission is making some progress in improving management in 2021, but ministers can still choose a number of limits over scientific advice. When it comes to agreeing full restrictions on stocks shared with the UK and Norway, it is critically important to follow the science of sustainable fishing.”
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