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Monday, 19 March 2012

Plunder continues as EU fisheries ministers tinker around the edges of reform

*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 [1].

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

into poverty.

*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 [2]. 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 [3].

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:*

*[1] *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


*[2]*European Commission external fleet study (2008)


*[3]*European Commission assessment of the CFP


Greenpeace press release

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