Reforming European Fisheries: Sharing knowledge and expertise on the ground
Common Fisheries Policy: Reforming European fisheries for long term sustainability
The European Union has reached an historic agreement on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the law that governs how fisheries are managed in EU waters. The current CFP is largely seen as unsuccessful for both fish and fishermen; the majority of EU stocks are overfished and many fishing jobs have been lost in the past decade. The new CFP, approved in principle in the final week of May 2013, will likely be finalized by the Council and Parliament by Fall of 2013; by 2014 the new, stronger Policy will take effect, including a phase-out of discarding and a requirement that overfishing be ended by 2015 for most stocks and by 2020 for all stocks. In expectation of these reforms, EDF has already begun working on the ground with partners in several Member States to ensure a sustainable future for EU’s fisheries. For more information on the CFP reform process, please visit the official European Commission fisheries page or the CFP Reform Watch site.
Financing the transition to sustainable fisheries in Europe
The EU is also reforming the funding of fisheries, with a proposed new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). Smart funding mechanisms that foster sustainability through improvements in science and data collection, monitoring and enforcement, transparent design processes, and co-management are essential to achieving fisheries reform. At the same time, avoiding subsidies that result in perverse effects must be a priority.
The original EMFF proposal from the European Commission included many positive elements, such as eliminating unhelpful subsidies for vessel construction and scrapping, which have been largely ineffective for conservation. The Parliament and Council are now considering that proposal, as well as a number of options for funding to develop and implement innovative allocation mechanisms and proven rights based management schemes.
EDF is supporting adoption of a European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) that will help the EU achieve environmental, social and economic sustainability goals for the fishing industry.
SEASALT fisheries design: aligning economic and environmental incentives
Rights-based management works to align environmental and economic incentives to find viable solutions for both fish populations and fishing communities. EDF refers to this kind of fishery management as a catch share, which is designed using the “SEASALT” approach.
These solutions work because fishermen are provided, whether as individuals, or in groups or communities, a SECURE share of the fishery. The privileges are conferred to fishermen as ones that are recognized as EXCLUSIVE, meaning others cannot fish another individual’s or community’s share. ALL SOURCES of fishing mortality (landings and discards) are accounted for in the science based allowable catch. Management units are SCALED to appropriate biological levels, taking into consideration social and political systems. Participants in the fishery are held ACCOUNTABLE to stay within their allocated share of the overall catch. Fishery-level catches are LIMITED at scientifically appropriate levels. Shares in a fishery can be TRANSFERABLE among participants in the fishery, either temporarily or permanently. Not all of these elements need to be in place, for example transferability is not needed, but generally the more attributes a fishery has the more sustainable the management system tends to be. To learn more about catch shares, visit CSDC 2.0.
Collaboration and learning amongst fishermen internationally
Catch share programs are working all around the world by rebuilding fish populations and helping fishermen ensure stable and profitable fishing businesses. This success is especially evident in the United States where about 65% of fish landed in federal waters are managed under catch shares tailored to local circumstances. We encourage fishermen from the US and EU to meet each other, exchange ideas, and discuss common management challenges that they face. Fishermen exchanges are valuable learning opportunities for everyone involved, and we hope to facilitate more international conversations.
Our focus in working with fishermen and stakeholders is grounded in scientific analysis and participation in hands-on workshops with the industry and other eNGOs to ensure that the reformed CFP returns results: sustainably managed European fisheries, beginning now.