Resolution passed at the EGP 4th Congress Meeting, Paris, November 11-13, 2011
The CFP suffers from confused and sometimes conflicting policy objectives. The formal objective is to provide "sustainable economic, environmental and social conditions," yet it offers no guidance to decision-makers and fisheries managers when objectives conflict.
After 30 years of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), fisheries in the EU are in deep crisis. Fish stocks are depleted, the industry is struggling to survive despite being heavily subsidised, the coastal communities are in long-term decline and the marine environment is degrading and in many developing countries fish stocks are over exploited and fishing communities are at risk due to European fleets fishing there.. These trends were evident before the CFP was created in 1982, but it has fundamentally failed to deliver solutions to the problems.
The Commission tabled a proposal for the reform of the CFP in July 2011, with the aim of having it adopted in co-decision between the European Parliament and the Council by the end of 2012.
Currently 65% of stocks in the Northeast Atlantic and 90% of Mediterranean stocks are overexploited. Between 1995 and 2010 EU catches decreased by 40%. Of the seafood consumed in the EU now over 60% is imported. 127 000 persons were employed in EU fisheries 2007, less than 0.1% of the total EU workforce. From 1996/1997 the number of fishermen has decreased by 4 to 5% per year. Last year the EU fisheries industry as a whole made a 4.6% net loss, when costs are deduced from income.
The CFP suffers from confused and sometimes conflicting policy objectives. The formal objective is to provide "sustainable economic, environmental and social conditions," yet it offers no guidance to decision-makers and fisheries managers when objectives conflict. EU fisheries ministers have routinely ignored scientific advice and set fishing quotas higher than the fish stocks could sustain, in the short- term interest of protecting jobs. The result has been depleted fish stocks and an industry struggling to survive.
EU fisheries are plagued with the practice of discarding fish, where vast quantities of fish and other species (birds, turtles, marine mammals, etc) are caught and thrown away, dead. This situation is a scandal. Destructive fishing practices are a significant threat to marine biodiversity.
Fish stocks are not commodities; they are natural, renewable common/public resources, yet the Commission's proposal includes provisions for privatising the resources. Allocation of fishing rights has traditionally been based on historical catches, i.e. rewarding those that have contributed the most to overfishing.
That the EU's fishing fleets are too large and powerful for the available fish to be caught is not disputed. Much of the excess fishing capacity is due to generous subsidies over a period of decades. Overcapacity is the most serious problem that the CFP must deal with for it leads to irresistible political pressure to set quotas too high and therefore unsustainable and/or illegal fishing.
The EU fleets operate worldwide with 28% of the fish caught by European fishing boats taken outside EU waters (20% in international waters, and 8% under agreements with non-EU countries.)
THE EUROPEAN GREENS CALL FOR:
Introduce clear and prioritised policy objectives!
The reformed CFP must clearly and specifically set environmental sustainability, based on the precautionary approach and an ecosystem approach, as a fundamental prerequisite for economic and social sustainability. Without fish, there can be no fishing.
Ensure abundant fish stocks!
Europe needs to be more concise and more ambitious in setting targets to rebuild and maintain fish stocks at safe levels and to avoid depletion. Fish stocks should be maintained at levels sufficiently above those capable of producing MSY (Maximum Sustainable Yield) so that they can fulfil their role in marine ecosystems as predators or prey and so that fisheries can be profitable without continued subsidies. To achieve that, Long Term Management Plans must be adopted for all regulated species, which should be rebuilt to levels above MSY by applying FMSY (fishing mortality MSY) as soon as possible, by latest 2015.
Introduce Stable Long Term Management of the whole Ecosystem!
International experience confirms that fish stocks will not recover sufficiently unless we instigate absolute protection of, for instance, spawning and nursery grounds and unless we designate substantial areas as out-of-bounds for fishing, amounting to 20 to 40% of EU marine areas.
Ban discards and protect biodiversity!
A ban on the practice of discarding marine organisms is urgently needed. The Commission's proposal for a discard ban only mentions certain species, it is very important that it includes every species, including seabirds, marine mammals, juveniles and non-commercial fish species. The ban must also be explicitly linked to the need to improve the selectivity of fishing gears and practices. Marine biodiversity must be far better protected from destructive fishing practices, such as anchored floating nets. Fishing gear has to be designed in such ways that they can only catch adult fish.
Introduce criteria to allocate fishing rights!
The privilege to exploit fish stocks should be conditional upon fishing in an environmentally and socially responsible, as well as legal, manner. Fishers should be required to demonstrate that their activities do not damage the marine environment and that they make significant contributions to coastal fishing communities. Member States should use such criteria when they allocate the right to fish.
Reduce the fishing fleets!
Fleet reductions need to be planned and regulated, in accordance with analyses on what resources can be sustainably be caught, with the first steps being the elimination of the most environmentally destructive fishing vessels and gears.
Restrain the expansion of Aquaculture!
Aquaculture is not a solution to the problem of overfishing the oceans. Greens demand the implementation of high environmental and health protection standards for aquaculture production, including organic aquaculture. Aquaculture can be more environmentally damaging than exploiting wild fisheries.
Cut harmful subsidies!
Public aid should not be used to increase fishing capacity; it should be used for improving the environmental performance of European fishing fleets, and other efforts to improve the state of the marine ecosystem. This means less damage to fish stocks and marine habitats, less energy consumption, no discarding and fully embracing the ecosystem approach.
Clean up the global impacts of EU fisheries!
The EU money paid as compensation for access to fish stocks in third country waters must be clearly de-coupled from financial support schemes to support local fisheries, research and control in third countries. The access fees must be carried by the vessel operators themselves, giving the EÙ funding more focus on improved management and development of the country's domestic fisheries sector. In international fora, the EU should be a champion for sustainability and transparency.
The EU should not access third country fish stocks unless the following criteria being met:
→ relevant, up to date and reliable scientific fish stock assessments are available → a scientifically established surplus of the targeted fish stock, in accordance with the principles established in the UN Law of the Sea, not targeted by the local
population → transparent evaluations being performed and publicly available → an efficient fisheries management and control → the same environmental standards as within the EU
Bring the fisheries policy in line with environmental and developmental goals! The European Greens insist that the reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy must bring fisheries inside and outside the EU in coherence with the environmental and developmental policies of the European Union.
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