Newly reformed Common Fisheries Policy stumbles at first hurdle

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 17 December 2014

Newly reformed Common Fisheries Policy stumbles at first hurdle MCS Fisheries Policy Officer, Debbie Crockard, reflects on another closed door meeting to set fishing quotas We were hopeful that the ministers would look to the future and apply the new CFP in a way that would ensure sustainable and profitable fisheries for the future of fish and fishermen.

Newly reformed Common Fisheries Policy stumbles at first hurdle MCS Fisheries Policy Officer, Debbie Crockard, reflects on another closed door meeting to set fishing quotas We were hopeful that the ministers would look to the future and apply the new CFP in a way that would ensure sustainable and profitable fisheries for the future of fish and fishermen. To achieve this, MCS believes that fishing at Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) is key to ensuring long-term viability of the industry and that while it may in some isolated cases cause short-term economic impacts this will be balanced by long-term gains. In cases where there may be significant impacts a phased in approach may be applicable until 2020, but in such cases evidence needs to be provided to support the delay in reaching MSY. Ministers have chosen not to follow scientific advice and reduce the quotas for several stocks - a huge disappointment and a sad day for EU fish stocks. Examples of quotas set above scientific advice include Celtic sea cod - a reduction of 64% was proposed by the commission and ICES and instead the council agreed a reduction of only 26%. Haddock in the Irish Sea has been cut by only 12% when a cut of 41% was advised, 20% cuts to some whiting stocks have been ignored in favour of a roll over of 2013 fishing levels. In these cases we expect to see transparent and detailed evidence to justify any deviation from MSY requirements of the European legislation . MSY targets must be met by 2020 at the very latest and by delaying their application without significant and justifiable reasons may result in more difficult and extreme cuts to quotas being made further down the line. For those fisheries with TAC’s not set in line with MSY advice there must also be a clear road map detailing how this fishery will reach MSY by 2020 at the very latest. Of particular concern to MCS is the lack of agreement of measure to manage seabass which is currently heading towards the lowest recorded spawning stock biomass, corresponding to highest recorded fishing mortality. Scientists have recommended that a catch reduction of 80%will be required to halt the decline of the seabass, and that further measures will be required to ensure its sustainable exploitation. While the UK government apparently fought for protection of seabass stocks, no agreement was reached on this topic during the negotiations and emergency measures will likely need to be applied to prevent the stock from crashing. MCS believes that following these negotiations it is additionally important for Member States to acknowledge those sectors within their commercial fleet who fish in the most selective, low-impact and sustainable way and that this should be recognised when distributing quota as described under Article 17 of the CFP. The new CFP has stumbled at its first hurdle, putting the CFP’s ambition at risk as well as delaying the long-term sustainability of our fisheries.

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