Marine conservation & fisheries management


Turning words into action for our seas and marine wildlife

Over the past few years, the Irish Government has committed itself to rebuilding fish stocks and to ending the wasteful practice of discarding fish at sea through European policy review. It agreed to legislation that will end EU overfishing by 2015 where possible, and by 2020 at the latest.

BirdWatch Ireland believes that this is a crucial step towards ensuring healthy seas with abundant fish and marine wildlife, contributing to human well-being.

Decision-makers have shown that they have the courage to make that happen with the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). However, action is now needed to turn words into reality in North-Western European waters. This reformed legislation came into force on 1st January 2014, but it still has to be implemented effectively to make a positive difference to our marine environment.

'TACs & Quotas' - Fishing Opportunities for 2017 - The negotiations of the December 2016 Council of Ministers will be held in Brussels (12-13 December).

Restoring fish stocks to sustainable levels through sustainable management of the resource is essential not just because it is the law, but also because it will help ensure a healthy marine environment for generations to come.

At December Council,  we urge Ministers to adopt fishing limits in line with the scientific advice from ICES (the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas). History has shown us, however, Ministers repeatedly exceed the ICES advice. By continuing to set fishing limits that exceed the scientific advice, Ministers make implementing the CFP more difficult, so it is important that they make public the justification for these decisions. The ongoing overfishing of certain EU fish stocks puts this natural resource under pressure as stocks will not have a chance to recover from over-exploitation, putting the fishing sector at risk too. We are now witnessing ongoing delays in bringing about what should have been fundamental changes for fisheries in Irish waters.  

In the run up to this year's December Council, decisions will be made about how much of what stock is fished by whom and where, we made submissions to help inform Ireland's position and ensure that the long term survival of fish stocks is brought to the fore. A joint submission between NGOs and others was made to the European Commission's consultation on Fishing Opportunities for 2017 in August 2016.  A further submission was made in Novermber 2016. Allowing fish stocks to recover makes economic as well as social and environmental sense.

Multi-annual Plans (MAPs) for fisheries - Will the Baltic Sea MAP and North Sea MAP help to End Overfishing in our seas?

We are making sure our Minister and MEPs are making the right call at EU level on MAPs. The CFP looks for an End to Overfishing and the MAPs are part of the solution to this and achieving an ecosystem approach to managing fisheries. See the letter to Minister Michael Creed and the joint NGO briefing to our MEPs to make sure they deliver what our seas need.

Our social media work focuses on highlighting the current implementation of the completed Baltic MAP and the North Sea and Northwest Waters MAPS (likely to be finalised in 2017) and recent decisions on fishing opportunities in the Baltic (10/10/16) and the forthcoming Council on 12-13 December 2016.  You can follow us on twitter @BirdsMatter_ie and look out for the #CFPReality  and #RespectTheLimit hashtags.

What needs to be done to bring an End to Overfishing?

Two recent reports identify the importance of listening to the science. One by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) called Landing the Blame, and a second one Turning the Tide by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

In November 2016, BirdWatch Ireland published a new report Life on the Edge. This report describes why the seas around Ireland’s coast and out beyond the shelf edge are so important for seabirds and their survival. To find out more, please click on our summary or you can download the full report here.

If you have any queries on the above, please contact Sinéad Cummins, Policy, Communications & People Engagement Team, BirdWatch Ireland. Email: 

16th March 2017

Across Europe, many organisations have signed up to a letter calling on our MEPs to support the 2014 Parliament position that maintained the ban on subsidies for the construction of new fishing vessels, which has existed in the EU since 2004. 

We are now calling on MEPs to oppose attempts to re-introduce subsidies for the construction of fishing vessels in the upcoming vote on 22 March on the "Management of the fishing fleets in the outermost regions" 2016/2016 (INI). Reintroducing the opportunity to use subsidies for new fishing vessels would undermine the objectives of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy to end overfishing, the implementation of the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals (in particular SDG14) and the ongoing negotiations on fisheries subsidies in the WTO.

We thank you for your support and ask that you tweet /email/ call Liadh Ní Ríada @LiadhNiRiadaMEP, our Irish MEP who sits on the EU Fisheries Committee, asking her for her support to defeat this amendment.  

Please do not delay - The vote is taking place next Wednesday - March 22nd.  

Twitter Hashtags to follow:





BirdWatch Ireland Report:

Life on the Edge





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