Tuesday

20th Feb 2018

Opinion

EU fisheries: little learned 20 years later

  • The EU is sending its fleets to fish deeper and further out at sea (Photo: Bruno de Giusti)

EU ministers will gather in Brussels on Tuesday (12 June) for a crucial vote on the general approach for the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The developments of these last few weeks indicate that the European Parliament - the Council of Ministers' equal partner for the first time on fisheries issues - has already shown much more ambition than many national governments. Indeed, the direction of the council's discussions is worrying.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

A meeting last month clearly showed that that only a very small minority of member states is truly willing and ready to transform fisheries management in Europe.

Member states have consistently disregarded scientific recommendations and the EU continues to spend millions of euros on subsidies to artificially maintain an oversized and unprofitable fleet.

Instead of tackling the depletion in Europe's own waters, the EU is sending its fleet to fish deeper and further out at sea - therefore also contributing to the exhaustion of other countries' vital fisheries resources. This is a cycle that cannot be sustained. It goes against both nature and the economy.

There can be no social and economic benefits if the environment, which provides the resource, is not prioritised. It is as simple as this: no fish means no fishing industry. Successful reform must place the resources and a long-term approach at its very core.

The formula is simple. Take just enough without depleting the stocks, without preventing their capacity to grow back, and without destroying the seabed and the habitats they depend on – and yes, be willing to make short term sacrifices for the long term benefit of everyone involved.

We are a few days away from the opening of the Rio+20 environmental summit. Does the EU really want to be less ambitious than it was 20 years ago?

Twenty years ago, at the Rio summit, we already knew that our oceans were in trouble and what was needed to restore them.

We already knew that we needed to maintain fish stocks above levels which can produce the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) - the maximum about of fish you can take without compromising its ability to rebuild - that instead of destroying fish habitats, we needed to implement the ecosystem-based approach and the precautionary principle in fisheries management.

Ten years ago, in Johannesburg, the very same principles were recalled, this time with an added sense of urgency.

Yet member states are today still challenging the need to change fisheries management in Europe, to follow scientific advice, to restore fish stocks above levels which can produce the MSY, to end wasteful practice, and to protect marine habitats.

The MSY requirement by 2015 is not just another NGO talking point. It has been around for more than 30 years, and is crucial step towards improving the state of our fisheries. It may be complex, but difficulty does not excuse inaction.

Discards is another issue at the forefront of the debate around the EU's fisheries policy. But the current discard ban proposal lacks the necessary elements to truly tackle the waste of 1.3 million tonnes of fish every year - in fact, it applies to less than 5 percent of those species targeted by the European fleet.

In these times of crisis (both economic and environmental), politicians are expected to look towards the future, and take the necessary decisions to solve problems.

Europe's fisheries are vital to our communities, our culture and our health. It is their duty to protect this resource for the generations to come.

The writer is executive director of the Washington-based conservation group, Oceana, in Europe

Morocco expels EU fishing boats

Morocco has told all EU fishing boats to immediately get out of its waters after MEPs scotched a bilateral aid agreement in a row over Western Sahara.

New EU policy aims to reduce overfishing by 2015

In a frank admission that the current EU fisheries policy is "not working", the responsible commissioner Maria Damanaki on Wednesday unveiled a new set of measures aimed at reducing overfishing by 2015. Environmental groups are sceptical that the plan will work.

EU fisheries reform losing momentum

After a promising start, fundamental reform of EU fisheries polices has lost momentum but it is not too late to repair some of the damage to the engine room of the 2012 reform.

Sea of subsidies

Continuing to spend public funds on inefficient measures will only push our fisheries deeper into crisis and further damage the state of the stocks, writes Xavier Pastor.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs approve anti-smuggling bill on tobacco
  2. SPD members start voting on new Merkel-led government
  3. Barroso lobbied Katainen for Goldman Sachs
  4. Berlusconi's coalition ahead with 34.7% support
  5. Moscovici: Greece '99 percent' there to get new bailout
  6. Simone Veil to enter France's Pantheon in July
  7. German poll puts far-right AfD ahead of SPD for first time
  8. Commissioners poised to join EU-Mexico trade talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Climate ShowSupporting Start-Ups & SMEs in the Energy Transition. Tomorrow the Brussels Pre-Event
  2. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism Year to Promote Business and Mutual Ties
  3. European Jewish CongressAt “An End to Antisemitism!” Conference, Dr. Kantor Calls for Ambitious Solutions
  4. UNESDAA Year Ago UNESDA Members Pledged to Reduce Added Sugars in Soft Drinks by 10%
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  6. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  7. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  8. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  10. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  11. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name
  12. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February

Latest News

  1. Eastern states push back at rule of law conditions on funds
  2. Katainen explains: My friend Barroso did not lobby me
  3. A European budget: securing a prosperous future for Europe
  4. Poland wrong to log in ancient forest, says EU lawyer
  5. EU taxpayers risk bailing out MEP pension scheme
  6. Commissioner Katainen confirms Barroso lobbied him
  7. Eurogroup chief pledge on transparency after meeting MPs
  8. Poland shows no sign of concessions to Commission

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  2. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  3. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  4. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections
  5. EPSUDrinking Water Directive Step Forward but Human Right to Water Not Recognized
  6. European Gaming & Betting AssociationGambling Operators File Data Protection Complaint Against Payment Block in Norway
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Expresses Deep Concern Over Proposed Holocaust Law in Poland
  8. CECEConstruction Industry Gets Together to Discuss the Digital Revolution @ the EU Industry Days
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Relations in the New Era
  10. European Free AlllianceEnd Discrimination of European Minorities - Sign the Minority Safepack Initiative
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Diversity Shouldn’t Be Only a Slogan” Lorant Vincze (Fuen) Warns European Commission
  12. Dialogue PlatformWhat Can Christians Learn from a Global Islamic Movement?