The Fisheries Council favours a debate about the Common Fisheries Policy. (Photo: cfp-reformwatch.eu/WWF.org.uk)
Fisheries Council to debate CFP reform
Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 03:00 (GMT + 9)
The Fisheries Council this week will hold a public debate about the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform and the issues of regionalisation and transferable fishing concessions (TFCs).
Many decision-makers and fisheries stakeholders want a more “regionalised CFP,” but the Commission has not put forward clear proposals on this matter, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). However, this organization believes decentralising fisheries management to fishery level and making stakeholders more accountable for the health of fish stocks is essential to achieve sustainable fishing.
WWF said Member States must seriously commit to finding ways of cooperating and delivering sustainable co-management at a fishery level; they and the European Parliament must agree on a clear regional framework in which multiannual plans are developed and technical measures implemented. In addition, fishers, scientists, industry and conservationists must take ownership of the health of fisheries resources and marine ecosystems.
"The CFP must provide a blueprint for implementing genuine decentralisation and achieving inclusive decision-making. Stakeholders need to be empowered in order to steer the transition to sustainable fisheries," said Roberto Ferrigno, WWF's CFP Project Director.
A European Union (EU) Court of Auditors report released in December warned that fleet overcapacity is leading to the depletion of fish stocks and the viability of the fishing sector.
The Commission’s response has been to propose mandatory transferable fishing concessions (TFCs) as part of the CFP reform. WWF argues that even if TFCs achieve fleet reduction, they are primarily a market tool not necessarily aimed at achieving ecologically sustainable fisheries.
“Mandatory transferable fishing concessions are a one-size-fits-all approach that does not take into account the diverse nature of European fisheries. However, reform of Europe’s fisheries policy will only be effective if access to the fisheries resource is regulated through user rights allocated according to transparent environmental and social criteria. If you give fishermen a more secure and ecologically sustainable stake in their fishery they will want to safeguard fish for the future,” said Ferrigno.
The Commission must introduce a wider toolbox of rights-based management (RBM) systems that can be used within multiannual plans and tailored to ensure the transition to ecologically sustainable and economically viable fisheries, WWF contends.
RBM allocates the right or privilege to fish to individuals or groups for a limited amount of time. The state retains the right to withdraw the rights if fishers violate the conditions attached.
Subsidies from the EUR 6.5 million European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) should not be allowed to continue fuelling overfishing. Subsidies should be used to promote the transition to sustainable fisheries and help fishing communities diversify their economies, and to improve fisheries governance by funding fisheries co-management committees, responsible for the design and implementation of multiannual plans (MAPs) for each commercial EU fishery, WWF added.
- Parliament presents proposals for CFP reform
By Natalia Real