*Brussels**/Nouadhibou (Mauritania)**, 19 March 2012 *-- European
fisheries ministers meeting in Brussels to discuss the reform of EU
fishing rules are expected to ignore the critical imbalance between the
bloated size of EU fleets and dwindling stocks, said Greenpeace.
Ministers are likely to reach an agreement on how to manage the impact
of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy on fishing in foreign waters.
The Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise is currently off the coast of
West Africa, near Senegal and Mauritania, where it has been involved in
actions to highlight the destructive impact of European overfishing.
The EU fisheries Council is expected to recognise the right of fishermen
in foreign coastal nations to retain priority access to local fishing
grounds and to only allow European and other foreign vessels the option
of fishing unclaimed quotas within sustainable levels. However,
ministers will likely omit any reference to agreed international
commitments on the reduction of fleet capacity .
Ministers will also debate rules to prohibit the damaging practice of
discarding unwanted catches, as well as a new fisheries subsidy regime
and common market rules.
The over-exploitation of fish stocks in Europe means that some of the
world's largest fishing vessels need to venture further and deeper to
catch fish in large quantities, with devastating impacts on the
environment. Super-sized industrial factory ships increasingly compete
with local fishermen in the developing world, pushing many communities
*Greenpeace EU fisheries policy director Saskia Richartz*said:
/"Ministers claim they are making progress on European fisheries reform,
but they are just pussyfooting around the real problem: there are just
too many destructive boats out there and not enough fish for them to
catch. The measure of success of fisheries reform will be whether Europe
commits to cut the size of its fishing fleet to ease the pressure on the
oceans and local fishing communities."/
According to official figures, the EU catches about 1.2 million tonnes
of fish per year outside its waters -- almost one quarter of its total
catch . The Commission reports that 14 EU countries have fishing
interests in foreign countries, but over two thirds of these 300 ships
fly the Spanish flag (67% of the total) and 14% are from France. While
French vessels target tropical tuna, vessels from the Netherlands,
Germany and Lithuania focus on small fish species .
Last week, in the space of just 10 hours, the Arctic Sunrise came across
no fewer than seven EU mega trawlers plundering the ocean's resources
off the coast of Mauritania. While patrolling the area, the Arctic
Sunrise also took action against other European and Russian ships taking
large quantities of fish.
*Greenpeace report*: /The price of plunder - How European tax-payers are
subsidising factory trawlers to strip fish from West Africa's waters
*Notes to editors:*
* *The EU acknowledges that there are simply far too many powerful
and destructive vessels for the amount of fish left in the sea. As
recently as autumn 2011, the EU joined other countries in the UN General
Assembly in a pledge to /"urgently reduc[e] the capacity of the world's
fishing fleets to levels commensurate with the sustainability of fish
**European Commission external fleet study (2008)
**European Commission assessment of the CFP
Greenpeace press release