CFP reform - 'more fish, more wealth and more jobs'?
by Lord Carter
If Europe's Common Fisheries Policy is radically reformed, there is a brighter future ahead
My committee has been clear in its view in recent years that the Common Fisheries Policy has failed. It has failed to deliver sustainable fisheries. It has failed to support a viable fishing industry. And it has failed to provide consumers with the confidence that they can eat fish that have been caught in a responsible way. If ever a policy needed radical reform, the CFP is it. We are not alone in this view. When European Commission for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki launched the reform proposals in July of this year, she said that Europe needed "more fish, more wealth and more jobs" - but that none of these things would be achieved unless the CFP underwent "profound change". So we welcome the clear intention of the European Commission, as shown in the July proposals, to reform the CFP fundamentally. While we certainly support the broad approach, there are a number of important aspects that still need to be clarified. Most importantly, how to devolve decision-making down to the regional level and truly involve fishermen in the decisions that affect them.
On the issue of discards, we are clear that the European Union needs to introduce a proper economic framework to support reducing them. The successful "Project 50 per cent" in South West England showed that fishermen are the ones best placed to decide how to avoid discards. The EU should get the right incentives in place to encourage them to do so. More generally, we see a need for the EU to introduce a range of practical measures into the CFP. These include the need for member states and fishermen themselves to take the technical decisions to put the CFP into practice, rather than this happening behind closed doors late at night in Brussels. We also need consistent planning at regional, national and EU level to meet maximum sustainable yield by 2015, which is the maximum level of fishing that can take place without harming the long term levels of fish stocks.
There must also be a decision to make the introduction of transferable fishing concessions mandatory so that even the smallest vessels have the option to opt in to the scheme. The ultimate aim of bringing the EU fleet's capacity into line with fishing opportunities would be undermined if TFCs were only available to large vessels. Some consistent methodology for collecting data on EU fish stocks needs to be put in place so that data are reliable. In addition, there must be compulsory national action plans to encourage aquaculture - given its increasing importance as a source of food when the world's population has just reached seven billion.
It is clear that there is a requirement for an EU labelling system, which gives consumers the information they need to make informed choices about which fish products to buy; and proper recognition of the Community Fisheries Control Agency's control and enforcement role. In our view, the work of this agency is pivotal to ensuring proper compliance with the requirements of the CFP. We see a case for the role of the agency to be recognised in the new regulation that has been proposed, so as to boost its prominence, recognise its key role and strengthen the case for improving its performance.
We also want those countries outside the EU receiving supranational funds in return for access to their fishing grounds to respect human rights and to account for how they spend all the money, not just the proportion directed to improving governance - as is currently the case. We look to Commissioner Damanaki and to Richard Benyon, our own fisheries minister, to make sure that CFP reform delivers the profound change we all want to see. Now is the time to deliver it.
Lord Carter of Coles is chairman of the House of Lords' European Union Sub-Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment - in the United Kingdom
There is no doubt whatsoever that introducing transferable fishing concessions to all sizes of vessel will result in the rapid demise of small scale fishers and the coastal communities that they support. There are a number of global examples where the effective privatisation of a public resource in this manner has favoured the most powerful economic operators at the expense of smaller interests.
The United Nations Human Rights Committee found against Iceland when it attempted to introduce something similar and the current UK quota allocation methodology rewards those who had, and continue to have the greatest impact on both stocks and the wider marine environment. Until such time as there is genuinely radical reform of the CFP, when access to resources is decided with regard to environmental and social criteria rather than who has the deepest pockets, then I fear that we will do little more than repeat the failures of the last 30 years of the CFP.
Jeremy Percy - New Under Ten Fishermen''s Association