Lords Committee says EU must address falling fish stocks

14 November 2011

The House of Lords EU Committee said that EU proposals on how to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) do not contain the detail needed to achieve the fundamental overhaul which will sustain our fish stocks and fishing industry in the long term.

Lord Carter of Coles, Chairman of the EU Sub-Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment, has written an article on the latest CFP reform proposals.

Also in a wide-ranging letter to the EU’s Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Committee Chairman, Lord Roper, called for the EU to introduce a proper economic framework to support reducing discards. The successful Project 50% 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.

The Committee also called on the EU to introduce a range of practical measures. The CFP needs:

  • 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.
  •  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.
  • to make the introduction of Transferable Fishing Concessions mandatory so that even the smallest vessels have access 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.
  • consistent methodology for collecting data on EU fish stocks so that data are reliable.
  • compulsory national action plans to encourage aquaculture, given its increasing importance as a source of food when the world’s population has just reached 7 billion.
  • an EU labelling system which gives consumers the information they need to make informed choices about which fish products to buy.
  • to recognise the Community Fisheries Control Agency’s control and enforcement role properly.

The Committee also wants those countries receiving EU funds which support their sustainable fishing agreements 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.

On 19 December 2011, Commissioner Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries sent a reply to the letter from Lord Roper, Chairman to the House of Lords EU Select Committee.

Image:  iStockphoto

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