Common fisheries policy reform must make fisheries sustainable, to ensure the survival of fishing fleets and coastal areas, says the Fisheries Committee in a non-binding resolution passed on Wednesday. Failing to manage EU stocks sustainably means that 75% of them are overfished, costing the EU about €1.8 billion a year, it adds.
"Despite some progress made since the last reform, the Common Fisheries Policy has so far failed to deliver its main objective: to secure enough fish in our seas and thus ensure the survival of fishermen and coastal communities. My report is a first signal of how the new CFP should be designed to remove its deficiencies and make fisheries not only environmentally more sustainable, but also more attractive, efficient and profitable", said author of the resolution Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD, EL).
The resolution, passed with 21 votes in favour, two against and two abstentions, paves the way for a Fisheries Committee vote on the basic Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) regulation in October and a plenary one in November this year. This will be the first CFP reform to be shaped by the European Parliament as an equal partner of the Council.
Clear deadline for sustainable fishing
Sustainable exploitation of marine resources, based on multiannual management plans, to maintain all stocks above levels capable of producing maximum sustainable yields (MSY), should be the key aim of the new EU fisheries policy, and the new basic regulation must set a clear timetable to this end, says the resolution.
The fishing industry and regional stakeholders must play a key role in developing sustainable fishing methods and fishermen should be offered incentives to use environmentally sustainable, low-impact and selective fishing gear, it adds.
Better data collection
To assess the current state of stocks better, especially in mixed fisheries where reliable data are lacking, the resolution calls for adequate funding for data collection, which it says should be harmonised at the EU level. Sanctions could be imposed on member states that do not fulfil their obligations to collect and transmit data, it adds
Gradual ban on discards
The EU should phase in a fishery-based ban on discards, along with technical measures, such as more selective gear, to reduce or eliminate unwanted by-catches. The ultimate aim of the ban should to prevent, rather than to manage unwanted catches, say MEPs, who also call for safeguards to avert the creation of a parallel market in discards.
To enforce the ban, the EU Fisheries Control Agency (CFCA) must be given sufficient powers and resources to help Member States to apply the new rules and to impose sanctions, says the resolution. More money should also be made available to develop more selective fishing gear, it adds.
Overcapacity and transferable fishing rights
Safeguards are needed to ensure that the proposed system of transferable fishing concessions (TFCs), which aims to reduce the overcapacity of the EU fishing fleet, does not concentrate fishing rights in the hands of few traders and thus create an anti-competitive environment, at the expense of small-scale fisheries, say MEPs. TFC schemes should therefore remain voluntary and member states should take the measures most appropriate to their circumstances to align fishing vessel capacity with sustainable exploitation of fish stocks, they say.
Work on the basic CFP reform regulation will continue throughout the summer, with the next committee debate scheduled for September. The committee vote is expected in October.
Committee on Fisheries
In the chair: Gabriel Mato Adrover (EPP, ES)