Huge Leap Towards Protecting European Fisheries - Oceana USA

Huge Leap Towards Protecting European Fisheries

World’s Fifth Largest Fishing Power Advances Dramatic Reforms

Press Release Date: February 6, 2013



Dustin Cranor, APR | email: | tel: 954.348.1314


Washington DC – Today the European Parliament voted to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), a law that manages all European fisheries. Members of the European Parliament overwhelmingly voted (502-137) in favor of a comprehensive reform policy which includes amendments – many of which were drafted by Oceana – that require member states to fish all stocks at sustainable levels by 2015 (thus setting a clear target for rebuilding fish stocks) and to comply with a strong EU wide discard ban and an end to the practice of “discards”, throwing dead unwanted fish back into the sea.

Europe’s Common Fisheries Policy has enormous impact on the world’s oceans. European boats catch more than 6.3 million tonnes of fish caught every year (almost 4.5 percent of the total fish caught, by weight, worldwide) and comprise a fleet of tens of thousands of fishing boats, making the EU the fifth biggest fishing power in the world. In addition, the European Union is the number one importer of fish products in the world.

The Common Fisheries Policy is a set of regulations covering all aspects of fisheries management from technical measures to total allowable catches and fishing subsidies. The last CFP was adopted in 2002 but has failed to put a stop to the overexploitation of European fishing grounds. A reform has been under review since 2009.

Oceana, the world’s largest organization dedicated solely to protecting the worlds oceans, has been working for over 20 months to make sure that this once in a decade opportunity to reform the failed EU fisheries policy was not wasted. “Today the EU took a major step towards the proper management of our fishery resources” commented Xavier Pastor, Director of Oceana in Europe. “Finally, Europe, which is a global leader in fishing, can also become a global leader for sound fisheries management and in saving the world’s oceans.”

The key amendments in this reform include requirements to:

  • Follow scientific advice and adopt the precautionary principle in setting annual fishing quotas
  • Establish transparency with regards to data and fishing opportunities
  • Establish strong definitions for fishing opportunities, fishing protected areas and low impact fisheries
  • Ban the practice of “discards”
  • Support the establishment of fish stock recovery areas
  • Comply with environmental legislation which requires achieving good environmental status of marine waters by 2020
  • Require member states to comply with CFP regulations in order to be eligible for fishing subsidies


To finalize this agreement, the Council of Fisheries ministers and the European Parliament will soon start negotiations, along with the Commission, to reconcile their respective positions and reach a final agreement on the reform by June 2013.

Learn more: Common Fisheries Policy

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