The European Commission has called for an immediate shake up of EU fisheries policy as both the ecological balance of oceans and the sector?s economic profitability are at stake. Overfishing has been identified as the number one problem.
?In its current form, the common fisheries policy does not encourage responsible behaviour by either fishermen or politicians,? EU maritime affairs and fisheries commissioner Joe Borg said in a statement on Wednesday (17 September).
He argued that the currently used management tools rewarded narrow-minded, short-term decision making, while they penalised those fishermen acting responsibly.
The common fisheries policy – formally established in 1983 – has seen revision every 10 years. The latest reform dates back to 2002 and is up for review at latest in 2012.
Mr Borg listed a number of obstacles that stood in the way to achieve ?truly sustainable fishing in EU waters.? The list is topped by the overcapacity in the EU fleet as at present, the fleet is capable of catching between two and three times the maximum sustainable yield.
The problem persists, despite the number of vessels declining in recent years – falling from 97,600 fishing boats in 1999 to some 88,000 in 2007.
According to AFP, the commission considers a cut of 40 percent necessary. Earlier this year, it stated that 88 percent of EU fish stocks were overexploited and suggested a new way of quota calculation for 2009.
In addition, fishermen must be made responsible and accountable for the sustainable use of a public resource, while the goal of ecological sustainability must be placed before economic and social sustainability, the commissioner says.
The ideas will be discussed at an informal meeting of fisheries ministers on 29 September. It is expected, however, that the discussion may see a clash of views, as member states tend to fight for the highest quotas possible.
Bron: Dr. Joanna Swabe, Scientific Staff Member Nicolaas G. Pierson Foundation
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