EU’s annual fisheries quota decision to be made more transparent

Published on
July 17, 2020

The European Commission will increase the transparency of the negotiation process for the E.U.’s annual fishing opportunities, the Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius has confirmed.

In the future, all elements of the commission’s documents complementing proposals on total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas, such as “non-papers,” will be made public when they are transmitted to the Council.

Non-papers on fishing opportunities supplement the initial commission proposals by translating new scientific advice or the results of international negotiations, which were not available when the initial proposal was adopted.

According to the commission, this will make the negotiating process more transparent from its side.

“When E.U. fisheries ministers decide on the allocation of fishing opportunities, a lot is at stake: for the environmental sustainability of fish stocks and the marine environment, as well as the economic sustainability of our coastal communities,” Sinkevičius said. “This is why it is important that such decisions are taken in a transparent way. An open dialogue with the civil society and our stakeholders will also help us to reach as many of our citizens as possible.”

The commissioner announced the move at a meeting with a group NGOs, including Pew Charitable Trusts, Fisheries Secretariat, Oceana, Seas at Risk, Coalition Clean Baltic, WWF, Our Fish, and ENT.

In recent times, E.U. fisheries ministers and the annual AGRIFISH Council meetings, which set fishing limits, have come under increasing fire from the NGO community for their lack of transparency, with strong concerns about the talks being kept from public scrutiny, and also for keeping member state positions a secret. 

They have also heavily criticized the setting of quotas above scientific advice.

In October last year, the E.U. Ombudsman issued a formal recommendation for the E.U. Council to release more information on fishing quota negotiations between governments, following a legal complaint from ClientEarth. 

Photo courtesy of skyfish/Shutterstock 

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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