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The Hague Administrative Court has ruled against eNGOs LIFE and ClientEarth, in their overfishing and enforcement appeal against the NVWA

Dutch Administrative Court Upholds NVWA’s Overfishing Oversight Decision Despite Environmental Appeals

The Hague Administrative Court has ruled against environmental organizations, including the Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE) and ClientEarth, in their appeal requesting additional checks and enforcement measures against overfishing by the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).

The appeals were lodged against the decision of the Minister of Agriculture, Nature, and Food Quality, who oversees the NVWA.

Allegations of Overfishing Negligence

ClientEarth and LIFE contended that the NVWA displayed negligence and inadequacy in monitoring and preventing overfishing in Europe. Their grievances led to an enforcement request submitted in 2021, which was subsequently rejected by the minister. The rejection cited the lack of specificity in identifying the violation targeted, emphasizing that enforcement requests cannot solely call for policy changes or enhanced oversight.


Minister’s Decision and Appeal

The minister declared LIFE’s objections non-receivable, arguing that they did not qualify as stakeholders. Similarly, ClientEarth’s appeal was dismissed due to the broad and non-specific nature of their enforcement request, lacking grounds to warrant an investigation into specific violations.

Discontent with the minister’s decision, both LIFE and ClientEarth proceeded to file an appeal with the administrative court.


Court Verdict

The court affirmed the minister’s evaluation of ClientEarth’s enforcement request, supporting the decision to declare it non-receivable based on its lack of specificity. The court emphasized that the request addressed irregularities across the entire fishing sector rather than a specific company’s violation. It clarified that concerns about the minister’s overall effectiveness in combating overfishing fall under the purview of the civil court, not the administrative court.

Additionally, the court upheld the minister’s ruling that LIFE’s objection was non-receivable as they were not considered stakeholders. To be recognized as a stakeholder, a society must demonstrate that its goals, outlined in its statutes, are directly affected by the decision. The court determined that LIFE’s vision of promoting healthy seas with small-scale fishermen controlling their future did not align closely enough with the specifics of the submitted enforcement request related to Dutch fishing regulations.


Source: Press Release

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