The way we live doesn’t have to destroy life in our ocean or poison our bodies and environment. But we need systems change to stop mass extinction and deadly pollution. I work with brilliant, committed colleagues exposing threats to our health and to nature and making the case for change.
When talking about ocean conservation, laws & regulations as well as their enforcement, are often discussed. Many of the issues facing the ocean could be better mitigated with legal protections in place. And in some cases, protections are on paper but without proper enforcement, they are empty.
ClientEarth is unique: they use the power of the law to fight for conservation. ClientEarth’s team of legal professionals, scientists, and policy experts work on environmental legal cases in over 50 countries. They have three groups with an ocean focus: plastics, fisheries, and sustainable seafood.
Using the law to make and enforce change gets the attention of governments and policy-makers. The law is a powerful tool and an essential one for conservation efforts. I am a huge fan of ClientEarth’s mission and could not be more thankful for the work they do for the ocean and the planet! ?
ClientEarth is an environmental charity using the power of law to change the system for a brighter, healthier future. We have three teams working to help the ocean.
Our Fisheries Team works on making sure the European Union is delivering on its promise to stop overfishing and illegal fishing in EU waters and by EU vessels around the world. The implementation of EU law has been patchy at best and the fishing industry use this as proof that the rules are flawed. There is also a worrying lack of transparency around the key decisions about EU fishing activities and about what is being done (or not) to enforce the law. We fight for the effective implementation of EU’s fisheries rules and making those rules better. For example, right now we are advocating for a change to an EU rule that exempts fishing fuel from taxation. That rule subsidises overfishing and keeps Europe from meeting its climate-change commitments.
Our Plastics Team works to ensure that companies that rely on throwaway plastic bear its real costs. That will force the system change we need to stop the plastic pollution crisis in our ocean. Plastic is so cheap because governments have allowed the plastic industry to externalise the clean-up and management of plastic waste. We advocate for better EU laws (such as the Single Use Plastics Directive) and make sure they are applied properly. And we use legal instruments to force companies to disclose the real costs – and business risks – of relying on plastic.
Our Sustainable Seafood Team works to keep illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing out of the EU – the largest seafood market in the world. We work proactively with businesses to secure commitments that go above and beyond the law, so that consumers can be confident they are not harming life in the ocean. We also advocate with the authorities in Spain – the largest consumer and producer of seafood in Europe, to make sure they are a force for change in Europe and the world.
ClientEarth’s Fisheries Team works alongside other NGOs to advocate for world-leading fisheries rules in the EU. New rules were adopted almost a decade ago, promising to end illegal fishing and overfishing in EU waters and by EU vessels. But they will only work if they are enforced. The EU and its Member States are failing to put those rules into practice. 83% of fish stocks in the Mediterranean are overfished, as are 43% in the North East Atlantic – when in reality it should be zero. EU vessels are also operating across the globe, with very little control in place. We are challenging EU decision makers for failing to set catch limits; we are exposing Member States that don’t enforce the rules on vessels; we are pushing for stronger controls on vessels; and we are making sure subsidies don’t fuel overfishing and are not given to companies which perpetuate illegal fishing.
At the end of last year, ClientEarth’s Plastics Team forced INEOS to rethink its plans to build a multi-billion euro plastic production facility. Our work on EU legislation is coming to fruition this year as all 27 Member States change their national laws to reduce pollution from single-use plastics; we are part of a coalition of NGOs watching to make sure they do it right. And our work is now focused on making sure companies reliant on throwaway plastic, such as supermarkets, are transparent about the risks associated with plastic and are acting to transition to sustainable business models.
Our Sustainable Seafood Team established the Sustainable Seafood Coalition in the UK, a platform through which businesses agree to source and label seafood. The Coalition’s sourcing and labelling codes are a global model for how businesses can set sustainability standards. We are working with businesses in Spain to create a dynamic towards sustainability, and we have supported the Spanish government to raise the bar in Europe for enforcement of laws designed to keep IUU fishing out of the EU market.