Displaying items by tag: overfishing
Scientists from GMIT, NUI Galway, UCD, Trinity College, UCC and Queen’s in Belfast are among the signatories to a statement calling for an end to overfishing in European waters “as an urgent and necessary response to the biodiversity and climate crises”.
The message was delivered to EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius this week as part of a statement signed by more than 300 scientists in support of the Our Fish campaign.
These experts urge the EU to set fishing limits within scientific advice and recognise that “ecosystem-based fisheries management is critical to the health of the ocean and its capacity to respond to climate change”.
“Overfishing and bycatch are the largest drivers of biodiversity loss in the ocean”, said Prof Alex Rogers, science director for research initiative REV Ocean. “We need a healthy and productive ocean, and ending overfishing is key.
“This is especially the case when faced with the effects of climate disruption, which affects the whole ocean, including fish stocks themselves.
“As a scientist, I am calling on the EU to recognise that ecosystem-based fisheries management is critical to the health of the ocean and its capacity to respond to climate change. It is also vital for human health, including that of future generations”.
Rebecca Hubbard, programme director of Our Fish, added: “Just like with our own health, if we continue to batter the ocean with overfishing, the whole system will weaken further, until it can no longer provide us with the life-support we need it for — oxygen, climate regulation, food and jobs.
“The EU must stop dragging its feet and take this clear and decisive action now, before it’s too late.”
The statement and its signatories can be read below:
Two Irish fish industry groupings have questioned the methodology used in a report published last week which claims Ireland is among the top five EU states who are “overfishing”.
The Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation (IS&WFPO) has questioned how the report by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) could place Ireland in an overfishing league when Ireland has a low share overall of quotas in European waters.
The Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation (KFO ) has also questioned the methodology, while the European Commission says fish is now being caught at sustainable levels.
An analysis of catches over 20 years by the British-based think- tank – which is reliant on trusts and individuals for contributions – found that most “excess tonnage” of fish has been caught by Britain, Denmark and Spain – at 1.78M tonnes, 1.48M tonnes and 1.04M tonnes respectively
However, it claimed that Spain, Ireland, Portugal, the Netherlands and Germany all gained the highest percentage of quotas “above scientifically advised levels for sustainable limits” over a 20-year period.
In an initial response, the European Commission’s maritime directorate DG Mare has said that while 70 per cent of stocks in the north-east Atlantic were “overfished” in 2003, there have been “significant improvements over the past 20 years” which have led to a forecast this year that 99 per cent of all fish landed is at “sustainable levels”.
The IS&WFPO says that Irish vessels tend to have lower quotas for some whitefish species than French or Spanish boats fishing off the Irish coast. It cites hake as one example - it says France's quota for hake was 7.5 times that of Ireland in 2019.
It also points out the Irish fleet also doesn't have access to whitefish quotas in other EU waters beyond Britain, and is largely confined to the Celtic Sea/Atlantic/Irish Sea.
It says that the landings of French, Spanish and German-registered vessels into Castletownbere, Co Cork has increased by 25-30 per cent per annum over the past five years, and says that the NEF is “not comparing like with like to rank states purely in terms of quotas set above scientific advice”.
The report’s author, Griffin Carpenter, said that the question was “whether the EU council of ministers followed scientific advice when setting quotas, and which member states were then fishing the excess total allowable catch (TAC) agreed”.
He said that Ireland’s marine minister Michael Creed is “on record arguing or higher TACs than scientific advice”.
“For some TACs Ireland has a small share, while for others it has a large share,” Mr Carpenter said.
“For some TACs the December Council agreement follows scientific advice, while for others it departs from advice. This study puts all TACs together and across 20 years rather than pick one or two anecdotes,” he said.
“Of course it’s disappointing when a country is near the top of the list but the methodology is peer-reviewed and is pretty straight forward,” he said.
Fintan Kelly of Birdwatch Ireland said that “securing quotas above scientific advice is overfishing”.
“If the fishing mortality resulting from the TAC is greater than that stocks ability to replenish its biomass through growth and reproduction then the size of the stock will decrease,” he said.
“ This will mean that everyone who has a slice (relative stability) of the pie (the TAC) will be worse off in time,” he said.
“The scientists with the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) tell the EU Council exactly what level they should set the TAC at to ensure that the stock does not decrease in size,” Mr Kelly said.
“ Indeed NGO’s would consider the ICES advice to be a limit rather than a target since fishing below that level would allow a stocks size to increase until it has reached the carrying capacity of the environment,” he said.
“ Considering that most stocks are at a fraction of their historical size, countries like Ireland should be trying to increase the amount of fish in the sea,” he noted.
“An analysis of the stocks that Ireland has a share in shows that many of them are among the most overfished in the north-east Atlantic,” Mr Kelly added.
He cited Celtic Sea herring stocks as an example and said that “the narrative that Ireland isn't responsible for overfishing because we only have a small share of quota doesn't hold up”.
#Fishing - Calls from over 175,000 EU citizens to demand an end to overfishing and protection of European waters took place as EU environment ministers gathered in Bulgaria last week.
As the Green News reports, Environmental NGOs, Our Fish, Seas at Risk and WeMove.EU delivered the petition with over 175,000 signatures to Sweden’s Secretary for Environment Per Ängquist.
Environmental campaigners also held a demonstration outside Sofia’s National Palace of Culture where the ministers held their meeting.
The signatories have called on all EU Environment Ministers for more effective implementation of Europe’s water protection legislation and to meet EU’s target of ending overfishing by 2020.
According to recent reports by the New Economics Foundation (NEF), Ireland is one of the worst EU states regarding overfishing in the Atlantic and is undermining global efforts to tackle the issue.
NEF conducts research on sustainable economics and analysing the result of EU marine ministers’ closed-door negotiations for setting fishing quotas.
For more on this story, click here.
And it found that Ireland “topped the league table” for setting or advocating for quotas above what was deemed sustainable by experts.
That’s according to the report’s author Griffin Carpenter, who added that this practice “harms the environment, is short-sighted politics, and goes against the objectives of the CFP.”
Ireland joined the UK, Netherlands and Denmark among the “worst offenders in terms of the total tonnage of [total allowable catch] set above advice”, according to the report.
Birdwatch Ireland agreed with the study’s findings, lambasting Ireland as “among the most environmentally irresponsible fisheries nations in Europe” and warning of a catastrophe for the industry when the deadline to end overfishing under the CFP approaches in less than two years’ time.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.
#CFPreform - RTÉ News reports that up to 200 conservation groups in Ireland and abroad have written to Marine Minister Simon Coveney and his EU counterparts urging his support for an end to overfishing in European waters by 2015.
The groups claim that mismanagement of EU fisheries under the Common Fisheries Policy has resulted in significant overfishing, particularly in the Mediterranean where as much as 80% of fish stocks are fished far beyond sustainable levels.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Minister Coveney - who is President of the European Council of Fisheries Ministers - welcomed a vote in February on a reform agenda for the CFP, which has been prioritised for delivery by the Irish EU presidency before the six-month term concludes at the end of June.
The Government's proposals to lift the ban on commercial bass fishing has raised the ire of at least one letterwriter to The Irish Times.
Guy Pitcher writes in today's newspaper that "the commercial ban has saved this very slow-growing species from otherwise over-exploitation and ruin for decades to come".
He adds: "There is absolutely no hope and no precedent for believing that a commercial bass fishery could be 'sustainable' as it is, regrettably, human nature to grab as much as one can before someone else does."
The Englishman, who fishes regularly in west Cork, argues that any benefit to the economy from commercial fisherman "making a fast buck" is "dwarfed by the long-term sustained benefit from continued angling tourism".
Do you agree that lifting the ban will see a return to overfishing? Or do you think that any measure to assist Ireland's economic growth should be considered? Have your say in the comments below.
World Oceans Day on 8 June will see the launch European Fish Week 2011 at Trinity College's Long Room Hub.
The evening will comprise an exhibition and brief talk on this year's theme of 'Back to the Future' - reclaiming the past richness of Ireland's seas and fishing communities.
"By reminding ourselves of how living with the sea used to be, we can better understand the present extent of overfishing and how we can play a part in ending it through an effective reform of the Common Fisheries Policy," according to organisers OCEAN2012.
The event, which will also feature music and a reception, begins at 6pm on 8 June at the Long Room Hub in Trinity College, Dublin 2. Those wishing to attend should RSVP to [email protected] by 3 June.
Further events will be taking place throughout Europe from 4-12 June. For more information visit ocean2012.eu.