EU lays out new fishing management priorities

Published on
August 20, 2015

Applying the EU’s reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) will require extensive work in the remainder of this year and in the years ahead, according to the new Management Plan 2015 published by the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG Mare).

Every Directorate-General and Service within the European Commission is compelled to compile a management plan for the year to come. Their purpose is to translate the priority initiatives and the strategic objectives of the Commission into concrete operations. Accordingly, DG Mare states in its Management Plan 2015 that it will concentrate on two political priorities: Firstly, implementing the reform of the CFP; and secondly, move ocean governance forward internationally and develop the EU's maritime economy to promote growth and jobs.

DG Mare’s main policy deliverable in 2015 is a “Commission Communication on Ocean Governance and the Blue Economy.” It said it will “engage internationally in the U.N. and in other multilateral forums, but also bilaterally with key global partners to keep the oceans healthy, clean and safe while creating the best possible investment climate for more growth and jobs from ocean resources.”

Implementing the reformed CFP will entail substantial work in 2015 and beyond, taking into account the need for simplification and increased effectiveness of the CFP rules, also from a governance perspective, said DG Mare.

It will propose to revise the current data collection framework so as to improve the knowledge base. At the same time, a new generation of multi-annual plans needs to be prepared and established across all EU sea basins ensuring full consistency with Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) targets. These plans will set the objectives and principles.

Regionalization, meanwhile, will allow groups of member states in consultation with stakeholders to prepare detailed management rules for the fisheries concerned. This, said DG Mare, will also be “the cornerstone” of the revision of the technical measures rules.

The landing obligation will continue to be gradually implemented between 2015 and 2019 for all commercial fisheries. Work has started in relevant sea basins to prepare for the second step on 1 January 2016, which will affect demersal fisheries in the North Sea and western waters.

In order to facilitate the enforcement and control of the obligation, the Commission will cooperate closely with the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) and define common priorities and benchmarks and a regional risk analysis methodology. Addressing the deficiencies in the collection, registration and processing of catch and effort data in member states will be a priority, in particular as regards interoperability and data quality.

Common guidelines and business rules are expected by the end of this year.

Because the landing obligation will require a fundamental shift in the management approach to EU fisheries and a behavioral shift from the industry, support to adapt to the new rules will be available from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). This will mainly be for more selective fishing gears and techniques, investments in equipment on board and port facilities necessary to use unwanted catches or, if possible, to bring added value to undesirable catches.

Also, for the first time, the new CFP requires member states to formulate dedicated national strategies for the development of sustainable aquaculture. Now that Multiannual National Plans containing these priorities have been received from most member states, DG Mare will launch an exchange of best practices between member states and monitor the implementation of their strategies. Furthermore, it said it would make sure that the EMFF operational programs are consistent with these plans to ensure a more effective use of EMFF funding for aquaculture.

According to its management plan, DG Mare will also reinforce its fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing by EU and non-EU vessels by gradually shifting from a bilateral to a multilateral and global approach. This move will require close cooperation with international partners such as the United States, Japan and China on a multilateral level and a more global approach within the UN and FAO, it said. Additionally, DG Mare will fully support the ongoing work on guidelines for the global catch certificate by the end of 2016 and also plans to initiate a discussion on the improvement and further development of its policy fighting against IUU fishing.

To gauge the performance of its policies, DG Mare has selected five key performance indicators (KPIs) – four operational impact indicators and one management indicator. Those KPIs are:

  1. The impact indicator related to the fisheries conservation policy in the EU: (a) Number of stocks that are fished at MSY levels, and (b) Number of stocks for which the MSY fishing mortality rate is known.
  2. The impact indicator related to Blue Growth and fisheries: (a) Economic growth in the blue economy of the EU, and (b) Profitability of the EU fishing fleet by sea basin.
  3. The impact indicator related to EU production: (Change in) EU production of fisheries and aquaculture products (catching sector and aquaculture).
  4. The impact indicator related to external relations: Contribution to long-term sustainability of fisheries worldwide, measured by the number of emblematic tuna stocks fished at MSY levels as per relevant scientific advice.
  5. The management indicator: the residual error rate for shared management expenditure.

DG Mare will report on these KPIs in its 2015 Annual Activity Report.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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