LORDS

Minister challenged on unsustainable fishing

14 March 2019

The EU Committee has written to Defra Minister Robert Goodwill MP with serious concerns about the level of unsustainable fishing allowed by the fishing quotas for 2019 that were agreed by EU fishing ministers.

Each December fishing ministers from across the EU convene to agree how many of each species of fish EU fishers can catch – this is called the Total Allowable Catch (TAC). Those decisions are informed by scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) on how many fish can be caught sustainably, and the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy requires sustainable fishing across the EU by 2020.

But only 59% of the 2019 TACs agreed last December have been set at a sustainable level, which is down from 69% in 2018. The EU Committee has written to Defra Minister Robert Goodwill MP expressing serious concern at this development, and asking whether the 2020 target is still achievable.

Lord Teverson, who chairs the EU Sub-Committee that is scrutinising the agreement, said:

"Fishing at sustainable levels is crucial for protecting both the fishing industry and the seas themselves. It is inexcusable that EU fishing Ministers – including our own – have failed so spectacularly in their responsibility to secure sustainable catch limits, and it now seems almost inconceivable that EU will meet its sustainability target by next year. The Minister needs to explain what changes are being made to tackle this problem, urgently.”

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