Damanaki: Next six months are ‘crucial’
On Wednesday, World Oceans Day, European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki emphasized that the next six months will be “very crucial” for the future of Europe’s fisheries, as stakeholders work to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by the 2012 deadline.
“In the EU, too many stocks are overfished, and catches are only a fraction of what they used to be in the 1990s and still dipping year after year,” said Damanaki at an event hosted by Globe International and held a Selfridges in London. The high-end retailer has partnered with more than 20 eNGOs to launch the Project Ocean consumer awareness campaign.
“Europe has to rely on imports for two-thirds of its fish. Several segments of the sector live on low profits and are too vulnerable to outside factors such as peaks in fuel prices,” she continued. “So what happens if we don’t act? We will loose one fish stock after the other, with a possible chain reaction for the ecosystem that is hard to predict. And our industry will face even more economic pressure. We will loose jobs, but not just in the fishing sector itself. Also in the processing industry, in transport, in port infrastructure, at auctions and retailers, just like the store we are in now. This is why I want to change things.
“First, the commitment to reach maximum sustainable yield (MSY) in our seas by 2015, which we all undertook in Johannesburg in 2002, has to become a legal obligation. MSY means that we can keep fishing. But we have to manage each fish stock in such a way that we can get maximum financial gains while still keeping the stock sustainable.”
During her speech, Damanaki outlined her plan to maximize economic return to fishing communities. She said she wants to put an end to discards by applying transferable user quotas. She also said changes need to be made in the decision-making process, so that more decisions are made regionally, shifting power from Brussels to the individual member states.
“It is a form of management based on results rather than methods, and it goes to the advantage of member states because they have to deal with far less micromanagement from Brussels and, most importantly, because they can devise new measures together with the industry,” she said.
At the international level, Damanaki said she wants to legally require the EU to only enter into a sustainable agreement with third countries if there is a surplus stock that is not being used by the local industry or by any other foreign fleet.