Apr 30 2012
If we were planning to create a European Union today, the two policies that probably would not be common policies would be farming and fishing. We only have the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) and the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy) because historical contingency – food dependency during the Second World War.
Both the CAP and the CFP need radically reformed.
In terms of the run up to the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, 2012 will be an important year for the future of the oceans and the European fisheries industry. The European Commission, are pushing for swift negotiations on an ambitious set of proposals put to the European Parliament and the Council in July last year. We must deal with fish stocks that are overfished and economically fragile fleets throughout the EU.
The key points of the CFP must be rooted in long-term sustainability. The parliament wants to ensure that stocks will be fished in a sustainable way by 2015 through the application of exploitation rates at levels of Maximum Sustainable Yield. We must also apply an ecosystem approach to take into account the link between fishing and the ecosystem. Such an approach would replace single-species management and be based on the best available scientific advice.
The big issue with constituents has been the wasteful practice of discarding and ‘black fish’ – throwing unwanted fish overboard – must come to an end and all the catches landed. A new system of transferable fishing concessions should also be introduced for vessels over 12 metres long and all vessels using towed gears, to help adjust fleet capacity to the resources.
European aquaculture must also be given more attention, starting with the development of strategic development plans by the Member States.
Member States will be given the role of devising, along with stakeholders, their own fisheries management measures according to their own regional specificities, giving some responsibility back to the fishing industry.
As part of the reform package a new fund for the EU’s maritime and fisheries policies for the period 2014-2020 is being proposed: the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The fund will assist in delivering the ambitious objectives of the CFP reform by supporting the transition towards sustainable fishing, especially for coastal communities who are heavily dependent on fishing and need to diversify their economies.
Aquaculture development will also be promoted.
EU should also be an advocate and world leader for the principles of sustainability and conservation of fish stocks and marine biodiversity as well as social and employment rights, and the sanitary requirements applied in the EU for the safety of food.
The Common Fisheries Policy reform is a matter that concerns everybody – fishermen, coastal populations, retailers, consumers and taxpayers. We need concrete results in terms of fisheries’ sustainability and the collective prosperity of the fishing communities.