2017 is certainly putting oceans in the policy spotlight. In the build up to the UN Ocean conference and the Our Ocean conference, declarations by the Commission and statements by the Environmental Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee call for sustainable use of the oceans, highlight the importance of oceans for climate change, and re-affirm the EU’s commitment to enhancing ‘blue’ socioeconomic growth. The challenge will be to reconcile these often opposing ambitions.

A new investigation by Corporate Europe Observatory and Seas at Risk reveals how Dutch and Spanish fishing lobbies have used press passes to access the EU Council building during crucial ministerial negotiations on fishing quotas.

The overfishing of many species in EU waters continues, putting the commitments of the EU’s reformed Common Fisheries Policy in jeopardy unless this practice is ended. Yet when the EU Council meets to set annual quota limits, the powerful commercial fishing industry lobbies successfully for catch limits set far higher than the scientific advice. The power of this short-termist lobbying threatens the sustainability of many fish stocks, and the long-term viability of fishing livelihoods.