Oceana claims new UK Fisheries Act turns back the clock on sustainable fishing and could allow overfishing to continue or even increase
Oceana, the largest international advocacy organisation focused solely on ocean conservation has condemned the UK Fisheries Act and slammed the UK Government for not fulfilling the promises set out at its inception.
Last week the UK Fisheries Bill passed through the House of Lords and yesterday it was signed into law by Royal Assent. The new Act was promised to be the ‘gold standard’ in sustainable fisheries but instead, many of the ring-fenced clauses that would have provided protection to fish stocks were removed by the Government.
In their statement in relation to the adoption of the Fisheries Act, the non-governmental group says:
Oceana regrets that the Fisheries Bill, which has today received Royal Assent making it the Fisheries Act, fails to include a legal duty to fish sustainably, below Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), for all stocks. The Fisheries Bill originally offered hope of a new gold standard for fisheries management in the UK, which could have served as an example across the globe. It could have provided a lifeline for depleted fish stocks by giving them a chance to recover. Instead, after years of progress to restore fish populations under the Common Fisheries Policy, the new Fisheries Act risks turning back the clock on UK fisheries.
“Oceana is very concerned that the Fisheries Act contains neither a strong duty to fish sustainably nor a deadline to do so. This could allow overfishing to continue or even increase in UK waters after the UK failed, under the framework of the EU, to meet the longstanding international deadline to end overfishing by 2020,” said Melissa Moore, Head of UK Policy at Oceana. “The UK will still need to work in partnership with countries bordering the North-East Atlantic to manage their over 100 shared fish stocks. The ongoing negotiations between the UK and the EU are the final chance to provide a legal commitment to follow scientific advice and fish sustainably. Oceana urges all sides to continue cooperating in pursuit of sustainable fisheries that will safeguard fish stocks for future generations.”