EU perpetuates overfishing instead of reaching for 2020 sustainability goals

What if someone made you a promise, but you see that they’re not putting any effort into fulfilling it? It’s not like they forgot either, but you can tell that they just don’t care. How would you feel??

Well, that pretty much sums up the entire situation with EU and overfishing. In EU’s recent appearance in the news, it’s reported that despite their aim to fulfil sustainability targets (restoring most stocks to their maximum sustainable yield) in 2020, their actions say otherwise. Not only are EU ministers failing to reach the targets that they set, they’re also going back on their word by ignoring scientists’ advice, and increasing fishing quotas on most species.

EU ignores scientists’ advice and opt for increased fishing quotas and subsidies for fishing vessels (Image source: Environmental Justice Foundation) (Teffer, 2016)

To make matters worse, leading up to the events of this year, EU fisheries ministers have  reintroduced subsidies for fisheries to be used for purchases of new vessels, as well as modernization of old boat motors. This means the EU fisheries ministers will blatantly be using taxpayers’ hard earned money to do exactly the opposite of what they promised to do! The fact that this was even suggested and reintroduced last year is sufficient evidence that EU had no intentions of fulfilling their targets at all, and it makes one doubt the integrity of the decision-making team.

The actions of the EU fisheries ministers are prime examples of how the difficulty of implementing policies and restrictions do not lie in the technical aspect, but rather in the politics. It also demonstrates how human greed distorts the way we act, even if we know that only harrowing consequences will follow. Be it forming beneficial connections with other countries or economic profits, these are all short-term benefits that can never outweigh the importance of maintaining sustainable stocks. There is nothing in this world that can amount to the cost of extinct species, because once they’re gone, they don’t come back. Why reap short-term benefits and suffer long-term consequences in exchange for long-term benefits with short-term limitations? 

It also baffles me how the ministers across the entire EU have betrayed all EU citizens’ trusts by acting against what they’ve promised to do, without facing much repercussions for doing so. If EU citizens won’t hold them accountable for their deeds, no one can. It is important to inform EU citizens about what’s happening to the ocean and their fish stocks, so they can hold these ministers accountable for their actions. After all, there is no stronger motivation than public pressure.

It is up to EU citizens’ to hold the fisheries ministers accountable. (Image source: Geert Vanden Wijngaert). (“The WTO Could Help End the Overfishing Crisis”, 2019)


Harvey, F. (2019, December 18). EU ministers opt to continue overfishing, despite 2020 deadline. Retrieved from

Teffer, P. (2016, December 27). EU overfishing to continue until 2034 at current trend. Retrieved from

The WTO Could Help End the Overfishing Crisis. But Will It? (2019, November 21). Retrieved from

WWF: Return of fishery subsidies a ‘definitive backslide’ in EU leadership. (2019, June 19). Retrieved from

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