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Oceana urges EU to finally deliver on its duty to stop overfishing

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The European Commission has published its proposal on 2021 fishing opportunities for over 23 stocks in the Atlantic and the North Sea. The proposal covers catch limits for stocks present exclusively in EU waters. While all the proposed catch limits for the fully assessed stocks are in line with the best available scientific advice, around half of the scientific recommendations for data-poor stocks have been ignored.

“It is obvious that the Commission proposal is fully committed to respecting scientific advice for those stocks that count with a strong analytical assessment, which is a positive sign. However, the Commission did not extend the same commitment to all stocks with precautionary assessments,” said Sustainable Fisheries at Oceana in Europe Campaign Director Javier López. “It makes no sense to request and pay for scientific advice which is then not taken seriously or simply ignored. Data limitations notwithstanding, the best available scientific advice should be fully respected if the aim is to comply with the law and to put an end to overfishing.”

EU law, via the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), sets a clear legal obligation to end overfishing by 2020, to ensure all EU exploited stocks are restored above healthy levels which can produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY). The CFP further stipulates that stocks included in fishing agreements with third countries are exploited as well according to similar standards.

A binding decision on catch limits for EU fish stocks will be taken on 15-16 December at the Council of EU fisheries ministers. Another 70 catch limits for stocks shared with the UK will be subject to the outcome of the EU-UK negotiations in a wider, post-Brexit deal, 2021 being the first year when the UK will not be subject to EU law.

Oceana univocally and continuously urges the European Commission, EU fisheries ministers in the Council of the EU and the UK government to:

  • Set catch limits (Total Allowable Catches) following the best available scientific advice;
  • meet the legal requirement to stop overfishing by 2020, and;
  • make the decision-making process more transparent and demonstrate accountability.

Background

Under the Common Fisheries Policy, a collaborative effort of EU countries based on common objectives has resulted in the overfishing rate in the North-East Atlantic dropping from 75% to 40%. This progress must continue if overfishing is to become a thing of the past.

The United Nations IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services warned that overfishing has been the biggest cause of marine biodiversity loss in the last 40 years. Overfishing also critically undermines fish stocks’ resilience to impacts of the climate crisis. Oceana highlights that overfishing is a problem that can be relatively quickly fixed by political will and consistent decisions in accordance with the best available scientific advice.

The UK and EU should keep current environmental standards, prioritise science-based management and legally commit to fishing at or below maximum sustainable yield limits, in any future agreement. Shared stocks need to be managed according to a joint methodology and the advice of an independent, international and widely acknowledged scientific body, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

Learn more 

NGO recommendations for the European Commission and the EU Council on the setting of Northeast Atlantic fishing opportunities for 2021

NGO reply to European Commission consultation on CFP progress and fishing opportunities for 2021

Oceana's recommendations for the EU-UK Fisheries Agreement

Oceana’s press release: post-Brexit fishing rules still up in the air

Afghanistan

2020 Afghanistan Conference: Sustainable peace, anti-corruption and aid effectiveness on the agenda

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The 2020 Afghanistan Conference kicks begins today (23 November) with the EU co-organizing and participating in number of events taking place ahead of tomorrow's (24 November) plenary session. Crisis Management Commissioner  Janez Lenarčič will co-chair, together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan Mohammad Haneef Atmar an event on sustainable peace (livestream available), with a focus on promoting human rights and empowering women, and also on refugees and returnees.

International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen will deliver a speech at an event on anti-corruption and good governance, and in doing so will emphasize the EU's expectation that the Afghan government delivers on its reform agenda. EU officials will also participate in a third side event taking place ahead of the conference, on aid effectiveness.

Tomorrow, EU High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell will deliver a speech at the opening session of the conference, when he will outline the EU's position on the ongoing intra-Afghan peace negotiations, as well as the conditions for the EU's support, which were presented in a recent paper co-authored with key international donors.

Later, Commissioner Urpilainen will deliver the EU's financial assistance pledge at the conference. Both interventions will be available on EbS. More information on EU-Afghanistan relations is available in a dedicated factsheet and on the website of the EU Delegation in Kabul.

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EU

Stop violence against women: Statement by the European Commission and the High Representative

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Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November, the European Commission and High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell (pictured) issued the following statement: “Violence against women and girls is a violation of human rights, and has no place in the European Union, or anywhere else in the world. The scale of the problem remains alarming: one in three women in the European Union have experienced physical and/or sexual violence. Violence against women exists in every country, culture and community.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has shown once more that for some women not even their home is a safe place. Change is possible, but it requires action, commitment and determination. The EU is committed to continue to work tirelessly with its partners to investigate and punish acts of violence, ensure support for victims, and at the same time to address the root causes and reinforce the legal framework.

"Through our Spotlight Initiative we are already fighting violence against women and girls, in 26 countries across the globe. This week we will present a new Action Plan on gender equality and women and girl's empowerment in our external actions. We also call on member states to ratify the Istanbul Convention - the first legally binding instrument at the international level to combat violence against women and domestic violence. Our goal is very clear: to end all forms of violence against women and girls. We owe it to all the victims.”

The full statement and the factsheet are available online.

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coronavirus

Coronavirus: Commission to provide 200 disinfection robots to European hospitals

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As part of its continued efforts to tackle the spread of coronavirus and provide member states with necessary equipment, the Commission launched the purchase of 200 disinfection robots that will be delivered to hospitals across Europe. Overall, a dedicated budget of up to €12 million is available from the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI). Hospitals from most Member States expressed a need and interest in receiving these robots, which can disinfect standard patient rooms, using ultraviolet light, in as quickly as 15 minutes, and thus help prevent and reduce the spread of the virus. The process is controlled by an operator, who will be located outside of the space to be disinfected, in order to avoid any exposure to the UV light.

Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said: “Developing technologies can set up forces of change and we see a good example of this in the disinfection robots. I welcome this action to help our hospitals in Europe reduce the risk of infection – an important step in containing the spread of coronavirus.” Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, added: “Europe has remained resilient and solidary during the current crisis. From repatriating EU citizens stranded abroad to increasing the production of masks and ensuring that medical equipment reaches those who need it within the single market, we are acting to protect our citizens. Now we are deploying disinfection robots in hospitals so that our citizens can benefit from this potentially life-saving technology.”

The robots are expected to be delivered in the coming weeks.

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