Seafood Summit: Reforming CFP


Lindsey Partos, SeafoodSource contributing editor, reporting from Paris

Published on
January 31, 2010

Editor’s note: SeafoodSource Contributing Editor Lindsey Partos and SeaFood Business Associate Editor James Wright are in Paris this week covering the Seafood Choices Alliance Seafood Summit.

Speaking about Common Fisheries Policy reform at this year’s Seafood Choices Alliance Seafood Summit in Paris on Sunday, Danish seafood consultant Paul Torring stressed that the existing policy “doesn’t work” due to two fundamental problems.

“It’s not a very smart system,” said Torring in regards to the CFP, adding that a “market-based system will change everything by incentives, instead of rules.”

“The rights are based on vessels, not on access to quotas, and rules are based on landing quotas, not catch quotas,” said Torring, adding that top-down management, discards and huge administration costs further contributed to the inefficiency of today’s CFP.

Last April, the European Commission set in motion change to the CFP, launching a green paper “without limits and without taboos,” said the EC’s Christian Rambaud, who also spoke at the CFP seminar on Sunday.

For Torring, today’s CFP has led to low profitability for the industry, poor traceability, discards and unreported catches. Further, the 2,600 rules that regulate how fishermen operate does not make for “a very smart system.”

Among solutions offered by Torring are transferable rights, which would eliminate overcapacity and boost profits.

“The asset would be the right, not the vessel,” he said, adding that in 2007 Denmark introduced the system, and within six months overcapacity fell 25 percent, profitability tripled and the level of discards also dropped.

And proposing an alternative to today’s landing quotas, Torring put his weight behind catch quotas, which would also solve the problem of discards.

“The thousands of rules are not necessary with catching quotas and accountability,” he explained.

But, asked Torring, what if fishermen cheat? Onboard surveillance cameras, pioneered in Canada and currently in use in Scotland and Denmark, reverse the burden of proof. The scheme, said Torring, that has the support of key EU member states.

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