Press Release - Friends of the Irish Environment - 7th Dec 2021
Irish High Court hears EU overfishing challenge
Court hears failure to end overfishing breaches Common Fisheries Policy
European fishing quotas are being challenged before the Irish High Court this week after Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) lodged a Judicial Review in June 2020.
According to the conservation charity, ‘setting unsustainable fishing quotas goes against the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, which contained a legal obligation to end overfishing by 2020. Yet the national regulations implement EU quotas which are consistently above the scientific recommendations.’
Fishing limits are set every year at EU level by fisheries ministers gathered in Council meetings each December. But ministers have so far failed to meet the legal target to end overfishing. In December 2019, 27 out of the 53 Total Allowable catches set by the Council exceeded the scientific advice provided by independent scientists in the International Council for Exploration of the Seas (ICES) according to an analysis by the environmental law charity ClientEarth who are supporting Friends of the Irish Environment.
With this Court case, FIE asking the Irish Courts to refer the validity of Irish regulations to the Court of Justice of the European Union which has exclusive competence in the area of the conservation of marine biological resources under the Common Fisheries Policy.
‘We need a bright future for our shared European fish stocks and that can only be achieved by following the scientific advice.’
The case is scheduled to run for three days before Justice Anthony Barr. A written judgment is expected in the New Year.
FIE is represented by FP Logue Solicitors; Barristers Mr John Kenny BL; and Mr James Devlin SC.
Notes to editors
*MSY is defined in Article 4.7 of the CFP Regulation as “the highest theoretical equilibrium yield that can be continuously taken on average from a stock under existing average environmental conditions without significantly affecting the reproduction process”. Common Fisheries Policy Basic Regulation (No. 1380/2013).
In 2013, as part of the last reform of the CFP, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament agreed in the CFP Regulation to end overfishing by 2015 ‘if possible’ and by 2020 ‘at the latest’. This was to restore all stocks above healthy levels capable of producing the ‘maximum sustainable yield’ (*MSY) and to implement the “precautionary approach to fisheries management”. This obligation was aimed at protecting fisheries in the long term against overfishing in the short term.
Every December fisheries ministers from across the EU meet to set the fishing limits, or ‘Total Allowable Catches’ (TACs) for the next year. They have before them the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) recommendation for catch levels that should not be exceeded to allow the stocks to recover and remain above Maximin Sustainable Yield [MSY] sustainable levels. The advice of the ICES is peer reviewed by independent scientists who were not involved in preparing the original advice and who have no vested interest in the outcome of the process and is therefore considered to be the best available scientific advice.For further details see case announcement of 22 June 2020 at: https://www.friendsoftheirishenvironment.org/press-releases/17819-high-court-to-hear-challenge-against-unsustainable-fishing-in-ireland-and-the-eu Copyright © 2021 Friends of the Irish Environment, All rights reserved. Press Release Our mailing address is: Friends of the Irish Environment Kilcatherine Eyeries, Cork P75 CX53 Ireland