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Conservationists decry science gap in EU fish quotas

Conservationists have attacked European politicians for again ignoring scientific advice as they divvy up fish stocks between their countries.

The European Union is currently struggling to reform its Common Fisheries Policy to put the entire process by which it sets limits for fishing on a more sustainable and scientific base. But as this rumbles on, ministers met last week to set next year’s quotas for catches.

The non-governmental organization Seas At Risk warned after the meeting that limits higher than those advised by scientists had been approved in 61 of the 75 decisions made.

“This disregard for scientific advice and for international commitments will undermine the future of the fishing industry and does not bode well for the ongoing reform of the Common Fisheries Policy,” said Monica Verbeek, the group’s executive director, in a statement.

Others joined the criticism.

Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana Europe, said, “They have no problem disregarding scientific advice and the harvest control rules laid out in management plans, and unfortunately nobody seems to be looking out for the welfare of the resources. It is useless to reform the Common Fisheries Policy if Member States are unwilling to comply with its principles and guidelines”.

The fisheries ministers themselves insisted they had done the right thing.

Richard Benyon, the UK’s fisheries minister, said that fishermen would face a reduction in the time they could spend at sea, although some species also had an increase in the total allowable catch.

“By arguing that we should follow scientific advice we have been able to agree quotas that will not only allow local fishermen to make a living but will also ensure that we can protect the environment,” said Benyon.

See also

Fishery reform slips through the net

Too few fish in the sea

Photo by Sally M. via Flickr under creative commons.

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