Latest EU fisheries management plan threatens sustainability targets and long-term ocean health | WWF

Latest EU fisheries management plan threatens sustainability targets and long-term ocean health

Posted on 12 February 2019
Western Waters MAP Vote
© / Chris Gomersall / WWF

Brussels, Belgium - 12 February 2019

Today’s European Parliament vote on the Multiannual Management Plan for the EU’s Western Waters - covering the Atlantic Ocean between Ireland and Portugal - brings the highly rushed drafting and decision process to a disappointing close, and foreshadows disastrous outcomes for the two other fisheries management plans currently under negotiation.

The vote followed two other highly controversial PECH Committee and European Parliament Plenary votes in October 2018. Multiannual Management Plans (MAPs) are intended to deliver the overarching objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) under long-term, ecosystem-based fisheries management with regional approaches to their development and implementation. However, the Western Waters, Baltic Sea and North Sea MAPs now all permit fishing above sustainable levels (Maximum Sustainable Yield), directly out of line with scientific advice, and fail to deliver long-term, ecosystem-based management within these sea basins. Together with the failure to restore stocks in the Western Waters to sustainable population levels, the entire plan is off course to the EU objective of Good Environmental Status by 2020.

Anne-Cécile Dragon, Fisheries Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office said: “The European institutions have been playing a dangerous game, essentially copy-pasting the Baltic Sea’s inadequate multiannual plan, first to the North Sea and now to the Western Waters. These plans blatantly disregard ecosystem-based approaches to manage the health of our seas and fail to embrace  regionalisation, the concept of addressing issues unique to a given sea basin.”


The legislative process for adopting a MAP usually spans 18 to 24 months from publication of the European Commission’s legislative proposal to final adoption; the Western Waters MAP was subject to just a ten month timeline. Rushing the process short-changes discussion and consultation between key stakeholders and results in a deliberate lack of transparency on the legislative process.

“Fast tracking the legislative process in this way is simply undemocratic, as the voice of Parliament, the chamber which represents all EU citizens, is left muted. We urge the PECH Committee to show far greater ambition in the final multiannual plan of its mandate, the Adriatic multiannual plan,” concluded Anne Cécile Dragon.

Today’s result signals that international industry interests trump efforts to adequately consider local issues and evidence, and disregards broader wishes to safeguard a healthy marine environment for future generations. The importance of scientific advice provided by international and independent bodies when determining fisheries management measures must urgently be more recognised and systematically taken into account by the EU. It is essential for developing more sustainable fishing practices and increasing transparency of fisheries, and critical to ensure that sustainability objectives are on track.

WWF will be looking to the new European Parliament in 2019 to be far more ambitious and to recognise the importance of sustainable practices for healthy seas and prosperous fishing communities in Europe. It calls on the PECH Committee to adopt texts in line with the goals of the EU Common Fisheries Policy, that are consistent with EU environmental legislation, and that secure environmentally and economically sustainable fisheries via healthy marine ecosystems.



Edel Shanahan

Communications Assistant, Biodiversity

Western Waters MAP Vote
© / Chris Gomersall / WWF Enlarge