Environmental Organizations Sue EU Over Overfishing: Will Justice Be Served?
EU fisheries ministers are currently violating EU laws, yet no one has been held accountable for their actions. However, today, March 16, environmental organizations are taking the issue to the European Court of Justice, arguing that the violation of the law must have serious consequences.
Despite the EU’s common fisheries policy stating that all fish stocks should have been fished sustainably by 2020, the EU’s leaders have failed to reach this goal or even attempted to do so. Presently, close to ninety percent of stocks in the Mediterranean Sea and a third of stocks in the North Atlantic are overfished. Human activities kill more fish than those that get a chance to be born, and the cod stocks in the Baltic Sea are threatened by collapse.
For a long time, the EU’s Council of Ministers have exceeded research’s advice on how much fish can be harvested sustainably. The environmental organization, Client Earth’s lawyers, claim that the ministers have been guided by short-term economic thinking and have made decisions that have not only affected fish but also other animal species that depend on them for food. Moreover, the disturbances in the ecosystem contribute to climate change, and fishermen and coastal communities are affected by the disappearance of fish.
Recently, civil society and organizations such as Client Earth gained the opportunity to take EU decisions to court. Today’s court hearing is the result of the Irish organization Friends of the Irish Environment, supported by Client Earth, taking their own government to court for unsustainably high fishing quotas. However, as the quotas are set by EU ministers jointly, the Irish judge referred the case to the European Court of Justice. Both the environmental organizations and the Council of Ministers’ lawyers will present their arguments today.
Client Earth has also sued the EU Council of Ministers for the fishing quotas set for 2022, with that goal to be addressed later this year. The overfishing issue is critical and requires immediate and effective action to preserve marine life, ensure the continuity of the fishing industry and secure the livelihoods of fishermen and coastal communities.