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Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR)

#StopOverfishing - Free from EU constraints, UK government stubbornly persists to allow overfishing in British waters

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Despite assertions that it will put in place “world leading” fisheries management, the Fisheries Bill proposed by the UK government will allow overfishing to continue, writes Oceana.

The Fisheries Bill returns to the House of Lords on 22 June, and the UK government is still refusing to amend it to require sustainable fishing. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) namely refuses to include a legal duty in the bill to exploit fish populations in line with the best internationally agreed management standard, which is known as the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). Oceana calls for this amendment and for the UK to lead the way on sustainable fisheries management, by keeping the environmental standards it championed to prevent overfishing when the UK was still a member of the EU.

Melissa Moore, head of UK policy at Oceana, said: “The UK Fisheries Bill comes amid a global movement to protect the ocean. But the reality is that 4 out of 10 fish populations around the UK are still overfished meaning our cod dinner is at stake as well as the jobs that depend on healthy fisheries. All eyes are on the UK to see if they can manage fishing better, outside the EU, but they are not going to succeed if they refuse to commit to a sustainable catch limit in the Fisheries Bill.”

She continued: “As the EU and UK fight for a bigger share of the post-Brexit fish pie, with the UK wanting to increase its quota and the EU wanting to maintain its share, there is an increased likelihood of overfishing of the 100 fish stocks they share. Setting an MSY limit is particularly important within this context.”

Fishing at or below MSY limits human‐induced fishing mortality and allows fish populations to recover and reproduce, generating a surplus that benefits fish, jobs and the economy.

With no MSY requirement in the Bill, there is a significant risk that overfishing will continue or increase. Overfishing leads to fish stocks shrinking or at worst collapsing, as was the case with Celtic Sea herring or North Sea cod in 2019. At present in the North East Atlantic over 40% of commercial fish stocks remain overfished, that is to say fished above Maximum Sustainable Yield rates.

The UK must not go back on its promise to keep the environmental standards to which it has previously committed. Reversing this trend of overfishing is essential for our fish stocks, fishermen and seas.

Ocean Plastics: The ecological disaster of our time

Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR)

Commission approves €720,000 Maltese scheme to support #BluefinTuna fishermen

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The European Commission has approved a €720,000 Maltese scheme to support self-employed Bluefin tuna fishermen that are affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. The public support will take the form of direct grants. The aid will be calculated based on the quota assigned by the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture to Bluefin tuna fishermen in 2020.

The purpose of the scheme is to compensate the drop in the price of Bluefin tuna on the market and therefore help those fishermen to continue their activities after the outbreak. The Commission found that the Maltese scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the grants will not exceed €120,000 per beneficiary. The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework.

On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.57984 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe (CPMR)

What's next for the future of oceans - EU launches consultation on #InternationalOceanGovernance

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The EU has launched a targeted consultation to assess development needs and options for the EU's International Ocean Governance Agenda. High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell said: “The protection of our oceans is a global challenge that requires a collective response. The European Union is doing its part and ready to do more. We are determined to continue to fulfil our responsibility towards our citizens and to work with partners across the world. We all want sustainable and healthy oceans and to improve their governance.”

Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius added: “The EU is fully committed to promoting ocean governance. We are a reliable partner in strengthening the international framework, a top donor in building capacity, a strong supporter of ocean science and a business partner for the sustainable ‘blue economy'. This consultation will help the EU to lead on delivering of global sustainability objectives for the ocean.”

The consultation aims to identify relevant actions in light of today's challenges and opportunities in delivering global sustainability objectives for oceans, in particular in support of the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Goal on the oceans (SDG14) under the 2030 Agenda.

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Commissioner Sinkevičius starts discussions on fishing opportunities for 2021 at #AgrifishCouncil

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Environment, Fisheries and Oceans Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius (pictured) presented on 29 June at the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers videoconference the Commission's recent communication on sustainable fishing and orientations for 2021.

The debate with ministers started the new round of discussions and negotiations on fishing opportunities for the coming year. As also outlined in the Commission's Communication, this year is the year when fish stocks have to be managed in line with the maximum sustainable yield target, i.e. ensuring sustainable levels of fishing.

Thus, this will be the main objective in the proposals for the Atlantic, North Sea and Baltic Sea stocks. Commissioner Sinkevičius also spoke to the ministers about the implementation of the landing obligation which despite being a win-win situation for fishermen and for the environment, remains a strong concern. On Brexit, he stressed that unity and a strong common position is needed to defend EU's interests.

Finally, the Commissioner talked to ministers about the bycatch of dolphins, porpoises and other protected species. EU legislation, both nature and fisheries rules, already offers all necessary tools to member states and in particular for the regions to tackle this problem effectively. In addition, the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 underlines the need to eliminate bycatch of species threatened with extinction or to reduce it to a level that allows their full recovery. A press statement by Commissioner Sinkevičius is available here.

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