INSIGHT by ClientEarth

The European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries (PECH) has entirely rejected the Nature Restoration Law (NRL) by a difference of just 1 vote (15 for rejection, 13 against). The NRL is the first EU law to set legally-binding targets to restore nature and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tackle the biodiversity and climate crises. This directly threatens the European Green Deal’s objectives of setting the EU on a path to a green and just transition.

Blue NGOs are now urging Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in the lead committee on this file – the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) – to listen to citizens and scientists, and uphold the European Commission’s proposal for the NRL in their vote on 15 June. The vote marks a legacy moment for MEPs, who have the opportunity to adopt legally-binding rules to restore damaged marine ecosystems, reverse biodiversity loss, and secure the long-term prosperity of coastal communities including fishers and tourism.

At the last European elections, climate and the environment were listed as top priorities for voters. Support for the environment remains high as we approach next year’s elections, with citizens and businesses calling for an ambitious NRL. However, members of conservative and liberal groups in the European Parliament, including the European People’s Party (EPP), the European Conservative and Reformists (ECR), and Renew Europe, along with the far right, have voted against restoring the ocean, undermining previous commitments they have made to tackle biodiversity loss. Today’s result reveals a blatant denial by MEPs from these groups of the climate and biodiversity crises, and complete disregard for the wishes of citizens across Europe.

Today’s political shortsightedness puts the future of European fisheries and the health of our marine environment in real danger, with dire consequences for millions of people living and working in Europe. Investing in restoration is our best insurance for resilient food systems and integral to EU efforts to mitigate climate change. Businesses increasingly agree that restoring nature is crucial for their future survival.



“With this vote, conservative, liberal, and far-right political forces in the European Parliament are uniting to take a clear stand not only against nature, but also against people and the future of coastal communities including fishers. By denying all scientific evidence and turning their backs on the last chance to bring nature back to Europe and strengthen our resilience to the climate and biodiversity crises, they are once again favouring the economic interests of a few fishing industries over the future of all.”

-Anouk Puymartin, Policy Manager at BirdLife Europe


“In the face of the biodiversity and climate crises, the vote today is a slap in the face to citizens, coastal communities and businesses. Restoring the ocean isn’t just ‘nice to have’, but fundamental for creating a healthy and stable environment in which we can all live and thrive. Thankfully, the Fisheries Committee does not represent the views of all EU citizens. It will be up to the Environment Committee to back the Nature Restoration Law and restore peoples’ faith in their future.”

-John Condon, Senior Marine Conservation Lawyer at ClientEarth


 “Today’s vote pushes the European Parliament one step closer to hacking off a limb of the European Green Deal, jeopardising our food security and a carbon-neutral future. While false narratives claim the Nature Restoration Law is a threat, in reality, it is the lack of thriving nature and our ocean’s degraded health that cause increased resource scarcity and threaten the EU’s goals for climate change mitigation. It’s now up to the Environment Committee and all MEPs in plenary to put the European Parliament on the right course for an ambitious and strong Nature Restoration Law.”

-Dr Antonia Leroy, Head of Ocean Policy at the WWF European Policy Office 


For blue NGOs, the outcome of today’s vote confirms the need to modernise PECH into a broader Ocean Committee in the European Parliament. This will serve to integrate all relevant sectoral ocean policies beyond fisheries, such as tourism, transport and the protection of the marine environment, while giving more space to the voices of citizens and not only industry to be heard.


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ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.


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