Common Fisheries Policy reform: glimmer of light in a sea of darkness

Posted by Ariana Densham — 15 July 2011 at 3:43pm - Comments

On Wednesday the European Commission launched its proposals for a reform of the way Europe’s seas and fish are managed. After such a positive start back in 2009 when the Commission published its progressive green paper [PDF], it has been downhill ever since.
Wednesday’s proposal failed to include the key elements that would ensure the health of our seas and sustainability of our fisheries for the future. This means we are one step closer to losing fish stock after fish stock [PDF] as well as the orderly winding up of Europe’s fishing industry.

It failed to:

  • Address overcapacity in Europe’s fishing fleet
  • Recognise the importance of putting the environment first in all decisions about fishing pressure 
  • Require fishing levels to follow the science 
  • Properly eliminate discards
  • Require transparency in decision-making and reporting processes including subsidies
  • Recognise the establishment of marine reserves as a way to reduce fishing pressure

There is a small glimmer of light in this sea of failure, and that is the fact that the proposal aims to restore our decimated fish stocks by 2015 – that’s 4 years from now. This is what we need, at the very least, to begin to address the fact that most of our fish stocks are overexploited.

How member states intend to meet this target when the proposal does not even address overcapacity is difficult to see at this stage. One thing we must ensure, however, is that during the proposal negotiations over the next 18 months, this crucial element is not lost.

The UK’s response, given by fisheries minister Richard Benyon on Wednesday at a special CFP event organised by Greenpeace and six other NGO’s, focused largely on other issues in the proposal. But encouragingly recognised the importance of restoring fish stocks by 2015.

As ever, the real work starts now, as the process for finalising the proposal into a new reform takes place over the next year and a half. The industry lobby in powerful fishing countries like Spain and France, as well as the UK, will be working overdrive to maintain the status quo.

We will be working as closely as we can alongside the fishing industry and the UK government to make sure that the UK becomes a real champion for the marine environment and that the Commission’s warning of fish stock and industry collapse does not come to pass.

Find out more about the Common Fisheries Policy and it's reform:

>> Live blog: The Future of European Fisheries event at ZSL

>> African Voices UK tour video: speaking out against ocean plundering

>> Fish Fight brings the battle to Europe

>> UK politicians join forces to fight for better fish laws

>> African fishermen tell EU fleets: Stop stealing our fish!

About Ariana

I’m Ariana and I’m an campaigner in the Oceans team at Greenpeace UK.  

interested? Follow me on twitter @arianadensham


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