EC to reform Common Fisheries Policy

The European Commission on Wednesday released a Green Paper detailing the weaknesses of the European Union's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and called on the EU's fishing and seafood communities to provide feedback to improve the policy.
The report is the first step toward reforming the policy for the first time since 2002. Public comment will be accepted through year's end.
"We are asking questions even on the fundamentals of the current policy and should leave no stone unturned. We are not looking for just another reform," said EC Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg. "It is time to design a modern, simple and sustainable system for managing fisheries in the EU, which is able to last well into the 21st century."
The purpose of the Green Paper is to raise awareness of the challenges faced by the fishing and seafood industries and to elicit public feedback in an effort to adopt "a new, innovative and more consensual approach to fisheries regulation."
In the report, the EC recommended drastic cuts in the EU's 90,000-vessel fishing fleet and subsidies to safeguard a sustainable and economically viable fishing industry. The EC said 88 percent of European fish stocks are overfished, compared to a global average of 25 percent, and 30 percent of European fish stocks are "outside safe biological limits," or cannot reproduce at a normal rate because the parenting population is too depleted.
The environment community welcomed the Green Paper.
"The Green Paper articulates a much needed, far-reaching reform. A reformed CFP must ensure that fishing limits are set according to scientific advice and are not subject to politics," said Uta Bellion, director of the Pew Environment Group's EU marine program.
"Currently, a number of fishing fleets are assessed to be two to three times the size needed," added Bellion. "Without delay, member states need to balance fleet capacity with the available fish to secure fisheries that provide long-term socio-economic benefits. Only by engaging in a frank discussion that leads to concerted action can we truly reform the CFP."
"The EU has a challenge ahead to find the solution," said Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana-Europe, "but this may be the final chance to reverse on the current practice of fishing down marine ecosystems."


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