EAA – Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform

eaaby EAA on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 11:28pm ·

The Committee on Fisheries’ vote Tuesday on MEP Ulrike Rodust’s CFP reform report was ground-breaking in several ways.

For the first time since its inception three decades ago the CFP now is under co-decision. Previously, the CFP was a thing for the European Commission and the Council of Ministers alone, with the European Parliament watching from the side-line. Not anymore, and thanks for that. Yesterday’s vote gives evidence, that empowering the parliament with regard to the CFP has merit.

The Parliament – compared with the Council – has proven more than once its willingness to go the extra mile to secure sustainable resource use and development. However, the Committee on Fisheries only rarely has been seen as or among the driving forces – until yesterday that was. Now the fisheries committee looks genuinely environmental responsive and responsible, as well as it seems to be less supportive towards short-term sectorial interests. Congratulations to the members of the Committee on Fisheries for that turn-around. May it long last.

A special thank you to MEP Ulrike Rodust and team for all the hard work they have put in to accomplish this fine result – and for listening carefully to us. Hopefully, the majority of MEPs at the plenary vote taking place in February or March will be as appreciative and vote in favour of the committee’s final outcome.

Vote result at a glance: With a few exceptions almost everything good suggested by the European Commission last year was adopted or even strengthened by the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries. On top of that other good things were adopted, including a mention of recreational fisheries in the CFP for the first time.

Some important issues agreed upon:

  • A legal requirement to stop overfishing: By 2015 at the latest fisheries ministers must set sustainable quotas in order to rebuild fish stocks to healthy levels by 2020.
  • Long term management plans shall be established for every fishery through co-decision (which means: by the parliament and the Council of Ministers – not the Council alone).
  • A ban on discards – and an obligation to land and record all catches of harvested and regulated species; to be introduced gradually between 2014 and 2017 (some fish and crustaceans can still be put back to the sea if it is anticipated they (most of them) will survive).
  • NO, to transferable fishing concessions (tradable individual quotas has been proposed by the Commission). Each member state shall decide how to allocate fishing rights.
  • Member States shall introduce a network of marine protected areas – parts of these areas shall be no fishing zones (but no quantification was given concerning how large these areas should be).
  • The management regime that Ulrike Rodust had proposed for the Mediterranean Sea – a system of territorially based user rights for fishing (TURFs) – was NOT adopted.
  • Member states have to assess and report on their fleet capacity. Member states not reducing overcapacity will not get any money from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (problem: nobody knows today how to define “overcapacity”).

Last but not least: For the very first time in the history of the CFP it is proposed to include explicitly among the CFP objectives, that the EU fisheries policy also shall take care positively about recreational fisheries. This is extremely important.

From now on fisheries and other marine interests will come under increased pressure by EU and Member States to achieve sustainable use of fish stocks, sea waters and marine space.

The reformed CFP is just one of many policies, conventions and legal instruments put in place to achieve sustainability. So far the marine interests have only seen or felt very little of what to come. Expectedly, we will see more tension and conflicts among and in between marine interests, and towards the legislators over the next decade. “Trade-offs” will be key.

As anglers we want to be part of the game and reckoned with – certainly not to end up as a stigmatized group, used as an escape goat or a whipping boy (‘Prügelknabe’) by other interests, managers and legislators if/when they cannot make ends meet.

The fisheries committee’s proposed recreational fishing inclusion would make that kind of evil much less likely, and less frequent. Now we need the Parliament’s plenary to adopt the final resolution in February or March, – and then focus will shift to the Council of Ministers.

Jan Kappel, Secretary General, EAA

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