Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki at GLOBE World Oceans Day Forum. (Photo: EC)
Damanaki speaks on the future of the CFP
Friday, June 10, 2011, 03:30 (GMT + 9)
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki spoke at the GLOBE World Ocean Day Forum this week regarding the upcoming Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform. She presented proposals to the policy and asked for support from government bodies.
The commissioner highlighted that catches in the European Union (EU) are only a fraction of what they used to be in the nineties and continue to skid -- Europe must import two-thirds of the fish it consumes to meet demand.
Solutions include committing to reach Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) in the EU’s seas by 2015.
“[This] has to become a legal obligation,” she stated.
Damanaki also stressed that the wasteful practice of discards must be eliminated.
“To help reduce discards, we propose transferable user quotas: the idea is that Member States will allow vessel owners to trade these rights between them; so if a skipper, on his way to port, sees that he has more cod than his quota permits, he can find out who is willing to sell him part of their quota so that he can land all his catches,” she explained.
To avoid buy-out of a fleet by another member state, she said, this system would work at national level only. So far, some countries have adopted this system, which has helped shrink the fleet; she mentioned Denmark’s demersal fleet, which was shrunk by 30 per cent, its pelagic fleet, which contracted by 50 per cent.
The commissioner is also pushing for regionalising the decision-making process.
"Let's say that Parliament and Council set a long-term plan for a fish stock in the Golf de Gascoigne and Atlantic area, and that this plan contains specific objectives, like keeping the fish stocks at a good level and so on," Damanaki exemplified.
“My idea is that France, Spain, the UK and other States with an interest in fish stock get together and agree on the specific measures needed to reach the objectives, for example closing an area to fishing, prescribing the use of specific nets or limiting days at sea,” she specified.
She said each member state would be free to select its “choice of instrument,” as what is important is that they achieve the goal as opposed to what steps any state takes to get there.
“The EU would be the lighthouse, showing the way. But Member States, regions and industry would still be the ones steering the ship,” she asserted.
Damanaki said regionalised management is based on results rather than methods and will benefit Member States because they would have to deal with a lot less micro-management from Brussels. The move would also allow them to come up with new measures together with the industry.
“It is essential that regionalisation goes all the way down to the sector. Fishermen organisations should carry some responsibility. Moreover, a regionalised policy would be simpler to implement and cheaper for the European taxpayer,” she added.
Damanaki urged national Parliaments, the European Parliament and the Fisheries Ministers of Europe to help make the changes happen for the benefit of Europe’s fisheries.
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By Natalia Real
Photo Courtesy of FIS Member European Commission - Fisheries and Maritime Affairs