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Aspirations of New Fisheries Policy Fail to Address Implementation

11 December 2013

UK - With one of the final votes taking place in the European Parliament yesterday (10 December) that will lead to the new Common Fisheries Policy coming into force, the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation (SFF) is warning that the new CFP has some fundamental flaws.

Three of the core principles of the new CFP are enhanced regional control, a ban on discards (land-all obligation) and a move towards the concept of ‘Maximum Sustainable Yield’ (the largest catch that can be taken from a stock over an indefinite period).

Bertie Armstrong, chief executive of the SFF, said: “This all sounds like common sense, with much to celebrate. Nobody, including the European fishing industries, contests these general core objectives. But unfortunately, the reformed CFP has failed completely to demonstrate any understanding of the difference between political aspirations and sensible regulation.

“The new CFP is an EU regulation requiring no further implementing measures. In other words, it is the law. If it were a directive, Member States would have leeway in how to achieve workable results and intelligent management measures. But we are now in the situation where the improbable and in some cases the impossible has been enshrined in law.

“Greater regional control is something that the fishing industry has been pressing for over many years because the centralised micro-management from Brussels was at the heart of the failure of the previous CFP.

“But whilst the principle of regional control has been agreed, ‘exclusive competence’ - in other words control in Brussels - remains enshrined in the Treaties. Without a highly unlikely change in these Treaties, regional control will be restricted to advice-giving, and never decision-making, which takes us back to right where we are now. While we will do everything in our power to make this work, there are real fears in the fishing industry that the controlling hand of Brussels will still have a big say in the way that our fisheries are managed.

“Similarly, discards are supported by nobody, least of all the fishing industry, but at the moment there is absolutely no indication on how a discards ban could be implemented. The aspiration is all very well, but trying to develop a workable management regime, especially in the complex mixed stock fisheries that exist around our coasts, is an unbelievably difficult challenge. If it is not done right and without the right degree of flexibility, then the economic implications for our fishing fleet could be disastrous.

“Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) is another laudable intention, but the way it is now enshrined in the regulation is scientifically impossible. How do you achieve MSY for each individual species when within the real-life complexities of the marine ecosystem various stocks are interacting and predating upon each other?

“The reform of the CFP has been a political process and we are stuck with it. Regrettably it is, in many respects, bad law. There is a huge amount to do now to put it into sensible practice. Our fisheries ministers will have to be brave if they are not to preside over the demise of the industries for which they have responsibility. They will now have to deliver workable plans that will protect our industry and ensure a sustainable future for fishing.”

TheFishSite News Desk



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