On 11 & 12 December, the Fisheries Council will meet to agree fishing quotas for 2018. Ahead of this meeting, Seas At Risk, together with Pew, Oceana, ClientEarth and the Fisheries Secretariat, has called on the Ministers for Fisheries of the EU Member States to follow current scientific advice and take steps to end overfishing.

The five NGOs sent a joint recommendation to the Fisheries Ministers, highlighting the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy, in particular the need to end overfishing by setting quotas at levels within scientifically advised limits or lower. The recommendation included a ban on European eel fisheries, as requested by 20 NGOs (including Seas At Risk) in a November 2017 letter.      

The NGOs also called on the Ministers to correctly implement landing obligations. The increase of quotas to compensate for fish that were previously discarded but must now be landed, should not result in overfishing.

Finally, the NGOs have asked for greater transparency and accountability in the setting of fishing limits. The current decision-making process lacks transparency, with Ministers holding an annual two-day closed session at which late-hour agreements regularly exceed the limits set out by both scientific experts and those proposed by the Commission. Ministers point to the socioeconomic need for these higher quotas but provide no supporting evidence, nor have they shared their plan to fulfil the legal obligation to end overfishing by 2020. During the 2015 and 2016 quota negotiations, key representatives from the fishing industry were present in the EU Council building, disguised as journalists, casting considerable doubt on the process and indicating a clear need for transparency.

The letter is accompanied by annexes detailing how the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy might be achieved and specific quota recommendations for a range of stocks.

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