“Two European countries, Ireland and Norway, have already banned all eel fisheries.” – redux

Despite a brief flurry of activity by Sinn Féin in February this year, around the Northern Ireland Executive Minister with responsibility for regulating Eel Fisheries, Sinn Féin’s Carál Ní Chuilín’s sudden “refusal to support European proposals for a unilateral suspension of eel-fishing”, the Minister’s promised Assembly statement on the issue never materialised.  That’s possibly because, at that stage, the proposal was only in a draft report [amendment 8] to the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries by rapporteur, Isabella Lövin, a Swedish MEP.

As it was that particular draft proposal didn’t make it past the committee stage.  One NI MEP, the DUP’s Diane Dodds, took part in the 18 June committee meeting, but the only local press release on the issue was released by another MEP, the UUP’s Jim Nicholson.  The report was adopted by the committee, however [16 votes to 9], and the amended proposals passed to the EU Parliament.  And, after a debate yesterday, which included this contribution from Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson, text here, the resolution was approved by 427 votes to 249, with 25 abstentions.  From the resulting European Parliament press release

Fresh legislation is urgently needed to save the European eel stock, which scientists report has declined by at least 95% in the past thirty years, says Parliament in a resolution voted on Wednesday. MEPs urge the European Commission to table a draft law by March 2014, including sanctions against EU member states that are slow to provide the data needed to assess the stock.

 “The eel is critically endangered and the member states are doing too little to save it. That is why the European Parliament calls on the Commission to present a new legislative proposal aimed at the recovery of European eel. The new law must close the loopholes in the current legislation which have led to the continued overfishing and unsustainable trade in eels”, said rapporteur Isabella Lövin (Greens/EFA, SE).

MEPs ask the Commission to evaluate current restocking measures by 31 December 2013, paying special attention to how much they really contribute to eel recovery. Restocking, a key feature of national eel management plans, involves adding eel from another source to existing populations. The results of this evaluation must feed into the Commission’s new legislative proposal which must aim, “with high probability”, to achieve the recovery of the European eel stock, says the voted text.

Furthermore, Parliament also voted to oblige EU member states to report more often on the impact of eel stock management measures: once every two years instead of once every sixth year. Member states which do not comply with the reporting and evaluation requirements would be obliged to halve their eel fishing effort.