Saturday

23rd Feb 2019

EU fishing policy not working, says commission

  • Almost 90 percent of EU fish stocks are overfished, the commission says (Photo: EUobserver)

The European Commission has conceded that its current fishing policy is not working and instead has resulted in alarming levels of overfishing.

In response, it says swingeing cuts are needed to Europe's fishing fleet via the next reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, scheduled for 2012.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

In a position paper adopted on Wednesday (22 April), the commission reports that 88 percent of the bloc's fish stocks are overfished, with 30 percent of stocks "outside safe biological limits"

"Most of our problems stem from overcapacity," said fisheries commissioner Joe Borg.

The commission would not offer a cross-the-board percentage cut to the fleet, saying that different cuts are required, depending on the type of fish that is being caught.

However, the size of the fleet is assessed to be two to three times the size needed.

"It is a decisive moment for EU fisheries," he said. "We have time, but we have to get things right."

Mr Borg said that while the existing policy has met with moderate success in some areas, overall, this has been "largely neutralised by the development of new technologies that increase the harvest capacity of modern boats."

Bluefin Tuna, cod and hake stocks are particularly threatened, he said.

The commissioner wants a radical break with the existing system, with sharp cuts to the fleet.

"I want the next CFP reform to break this cycle once and for all," he said. "Too many boats are chasing too few fish."

Beyond fleet reductions, the paper suggests a liberalisation of the quota system where instead of competition amongst EU member states in the distribution of fishing quotas, which are then passed on to domestic fleets, quotas are offered to fishermen individually and can then be transferred or sold.

Because these would only be handed out once, the commission believes that this would force fishermen to engage in more sustainable practices.

Others however believe that such a liberalisation would only permit larger, corporate operators to vacuum up the quotas at the expense of small-scale fishermen.

Green groups welcomed the position paper, happy that the commission has recognised the current system is broken.

"Scientific evidence shows an ongoing dramatic erosion of marine biological diversity that appears to be accelerating on a global scale, with predicted collapse of all fished species by the year 2048 under business as usual," said Oceana, a seas campaign group.

"Today we are left to deal with stocks fished down to depletion," said the group's European director, Xavier Pastor, "recovery plans unable to serve their aim, unmanaged overcapacity, poor environmental compliance, low profitability of the EU fisheries industry, governance structure failing in their accountability to common interests, perverse subsidies and incentives, insufficient monitoring and control, unsustainable loss of biodiversity."

"The EU has a challenge ahead to find the solution, but this may be the final chance to reverse on the current practice of fishing down marine ecosystems," he added.

Greenpeace EU oceans policy director Saskia Richartz said: "This is the last chance we have to reform a rotten policy and save our seas. Ministers and the commission are responsible for making European fisheries one of the most unsustainable and least profitable fisheries in the world."

Nevertheless, the paper is being released at a time of increased strife at sea over the existing quotas.

French fishermen last week blockaded three English Channel ports in protest that the quotas are too strict. They only lifted them when promised an extra €4 million in subsidies.

Sector stakeholders are encouraged to contribute their opinions on the paper. At the end of this year, the commission will then take these contributions into consideration in a drafting of measures and the launch of a formal legislative process, replacing the current CFP after 2012.

Auditors raise alarm over air pollution in Europe

Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, and the Netherlands "have not taken sufficient action to improve air quality", according to a new report. In 2015, nearly 400,000 people in the EU died prematurely due to air pollution.

COP24: Vanuatu in 'constant state of emergency' on climate

Ralph Regenvanu, foreign minister of the Pacific island Vanuatu, said at the COP24 talks in Poland it was disappointing the host country was promoting coal - but was happy with EU contributions to tackle climate change.

News in Brief

  1. May to meet Tusk on Sunday at Arab summit
  2. Report: Russia offered Italy's Salvini €3m for EU election
  3. EU and US could 'quickly' clinch mini-trade pact
  4. Belgium to gather evidence on Syria 'foreign fighters'
  5. Dozens of Tory and Labour MPs threatening to quit over Brexit
  6. UK will struggle on free-trade deals, EU says
  7. Juncker pledges climate action alongside Swedish activist
  8. Swedbank brings in external help on money laundering revelations

Stakeholder

COP24 Nordic Pavilion: sharing climate solutions with the world

The Nordic Pavilion at COP24 is dedicated to dialogue – TalaNordic – about key themes regarding the transition to a low-carbon society, such as energy, transport, urban futures, the circular economy and green financing.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Brexit and Orban in spotlight This WEEK
  2. Swedish activist urges EU to double climate goals
  3. EP budget chair seeks clarity on Saudi lobbying and College of Europe
  4. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  5. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  6. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  7. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  8. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us