EU ignores science once again

euThe Council of Fisheries Ministers of the EU has reached an agreement on fishing opportunities for deep-sea species for 2015 and 2016 with national interest once more taking precedence.

Although catches will be reduced for many deep-sea stocks, as usual, catch limits were set higher than scientifically advised for 63 per cent of stocks, putting those vulnerable species at serious risk.

This is a typical move from politicians, fisheries managers and commercial representatives who are always to happy to quote science when they perceive it to be in their interests, but are always the first to ignore it when they don’t like the answers. Whilst claiming they are acting in the best interests of the public they are blatantly ignoring their commitment to responsible exploitation.

The Council ignored several recommendations from scientists: fisheries closures for two stocks of roundnose grenadier and red seabream, catch reductions of alfonsinos and black scabbardfish, and only moderate increases in catches of greater forkbeard.

On the other hand, the Council agreed to maintain the prohibition on retention of depleted orange roughy and deep-sea sharks and the roughhead grenadier, will now be managed through catch limits – all those species have long been identified as being subject to over exploitation.

The regulation on of EU fisheries management, including how catch limits are set, is widely acknowledged to be badly outdated and in need of urgent revision – the European Parliament voted in December 2013 for a series of improvements to management, including the obligation to follow scientific advice, to protect vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems, and to avoid by-catch of vulnerable species.

The file remains stalled in Council, which has yet to finalise its position, but of course national interest takes far greater precedence than actually doing anything about it.

Category: EU Government News

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