Debate over fisheries management reform heats up
By Lindsey Partos, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Paris
28 April, 2010
Successful reform to Europe’s tired fisheries policy is in the hands of a multitude of multi-stakeholders, each bringing to the table their own positions and interpretation of change.
Galvanizing and shaping this kaleidoscope of ideas into a meaningful fisheries framework is the gargantuan challenge facing the European Commission and new Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki.
“The road will be a bumpy one at times, but failure is not an option,” said Damanaki, laying out her priorities in a recent EC publication.
“Willing partners,” she said, are required to carry reform forward to achieve the overall aim of securing a “healthy and prosperous fishing industry.”
Reform to today’s cumbersome Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was a hot topic at the European Seafood Exposition in Brussels again this year. The reform kicked off early last year when the EC published a green paper seeking public input. In the document, officials admitted key failings to the CFP, including fleet overcapacity and overfishing, imprecise policy objectives and a framework that fails to give sufficient responsibility to industry.
The public-comment period is closed, and the EC is now wading through the feedback, although Brussels is “still happy” to receive additional input. In step with its timeline, the EC is drawing up a proposal for the European Council and the European Parliament. Adoption of the reform is slated for 2013.
While encouraging political will toward meaningful reform is a key challenge for EC, momentum for change is not solely in the hands of the European politicians. Industry players locked into the supply chain — from production to the point of sale — NGOs, scientists and consumers also have a stake in helping to articulate real change.
And as the road to reform progresses and positions evolve, stakeholders are starting to unite. On Wednesday at the European Seafood Exposition, the World Wildlife Fund and European seafood processors and retailers announced they will jointly seek reforms to the “troubled” CFP.
EU Fish Processors’ and Traders Association (AIPCE-CEP) whose members represent about EUR 20 billion in production, and retail trade group Eurocommerce have linked up with the WWF to call for CFP reform to “deliver a workable EU sustainable fisheries management policy.”
The awareness that common ground existed between the various stakeholders represented a key motivation for the partnership.
“We saw our views beginning to align on policy matters. Together our voices are stronger than the individual voice,” said Jessica Landman, the WWF’s team leader on CFP reform, in Brussels. Ultimately, “we hope all voices will converge and align for reform.”
Echoing this united front, AIPCE president Guus Pastoor said fish processors and traders “are convinced that it is necessary to joint forces to achieve sustainable and profitable fisheries.”
More specifically, the group proposes reform should include mandatory long-term management plans (LTMPs) for all EU fisheries by 2012, which would “move us away from the politically motivated annual quota negotiations toward management based on sound science.”
In addition, the alliance supports a more “decentralized” management system that would replace today’s top-down system. Replacing the one-size-fits-all element of today’s CFP management would be an effective regionalization that squarely positions all stakeholders at the heart of the decision making process.
A move toward regionalization would, said the alliance, give a stronger voice to fishermen and other stakeholders, with fisheries plans developed by broad stakeholder groups and the co-management of the fisheries at member-state level once the plans are agreed.
And in step with major concerns over fish discards and overfishing, the alliance underlined that the CFP should deliver “sustainably sourced supplies” that represent a fair reflection of the market.
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28 April, 2010