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In this issue:
CFP Reform
Consultation on the CFP Reform
Visions of CFP Reform
Seafood Choices Quick Links

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In this edition of Afishianado, we shine a light on the European Union's (EU) efforts to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and we highlight the views of a number of individuals deeply engaged in the European seafood sector.  Two-thirds of Europe's fish populations are in decline, including some of the most sought-after species such as cod, plaice and sole. Management of these fisheries must be improved, and the EU is offering stakeholders and the public a unique opportunity to help shape the future of the CFP and fisheries management in Europe. Read more below about the CFP and the consultation on its reform, and don't miss this chance to offer your thoughts to help ensure the long-term sustainability of Europe's fisheries.
The Common Fisheries Policy Reform

CFP ManualThe Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is the European Union's instrument for the management of fisheries and aquaculture. The first cooperative measures date back to 1970, when it was agreed that EU fishermen should have equal access to Member States' waters. Measures were also adopted for a common market in fisheries products, while a structural policy was set up to coordinate the modernization of fishing vessels and on-shore installations. In 1976, Member States extended their rights to marine resources from 12 to 200 nautical miles off their coasts. They also decided that the European Union was the best body to manage fisheries in the waters under their jurisdiction and to defend their interests in international negotiations.
The CFP was born created in 1983 with the aim to "conserve fish populations, protect the marine environment, ensure the economic viability of the European fleets and provide good quality food to consumers"; it has since been subject to revision every 10 years. As a result of the policy's failure to successfully achieve its objectives, it went through a radical reform in 2002. The 2002 reform was aimed at ensuring the "sustainable development of fishing activities from an environmental, economic and social point of view." The reform, which entered into force on January 1, 2003, also aimed to contribute to efficient fishing activities within an economically viable and competitive fisheries and aquaculture industry. 
Unfortunately, the 2003 reform has also been unable to fulfill all its objectives. It has been the focus of much criticism, in particular that short-term interests have taken precedence over long-term ones and that resources have been ineffectively managed. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), more than 70 percent of the world's fish populations are either fully exploited or depleted. In Europe two-thirds of fish populations are declining, including some of the most popular species such as cod, plaice and sole. Clearly more must be done to prevent this continued decline.
In light of these failures, the CFP is about to undergo another reform, and the time is ripe for the Commission and Member States to assume their responsibilities. The European Commission published a Green Paper (Green Paper on a reform of the Common Fisheries Policy) on April 22, 2009, which lays the groundwork for this reform. In this paper, the Commission acknowledges that the objectives adopted in 2002 for a sustainable fishing industry have not been reached, describing the current situation as having "fleet overcapacity, heavy subsidies, low economic resilience and decline in the volume of fish caught by European fishermen. The current CFP has not worked well enough to prevent those problems. ...Too many vessels chase too few fish and many parts of the European fleet are economically unviable."
According to the Commission, those outcomes are due to five main structural failings:
  • A deep-rooted problem of fleet overcapacity;
  • Imprecise policy objectives resulting in insufficient guidance for decisions and implementation;
  • A decision-making system that encourages a short-term focus;
  • A framework that does not give sufficient responsibility to the industry; and
  • Lack of political will to ensure compliance and poor compliance by the industry.
The Green Paper calls for long-term fish population management and a transition towards a more efficient industry with a reduced capacity. It states that fleet overcapacity remains the fundamental problem of the CFP: "The European fleets remain far too large for the resources available and this imbalance is at the root of all problems related to low economic performance, weak enforcement and overexploited resources. The future CFP must have in-built mechanisms to ensure that the size of European fishing fleets is adapted and remains proportionate to available fish stocks. This is a pre-requisite for all other pillars of the policy to work."
The Commission is also encouraging the industry to take more responsibility in implementing the CFP:  "In a mostly top-down approach, which has been the case under the CFP so far, the fishing industry has been given few incentives to behave as a responsible actor accountable for the sustainable use of a public resource. Co-management arrangements could be developed to reverse this situation."
Another issue lies in the shortcomings of fisheries control in the European Union. The Commission recommends moving ahead with an immediate in-depth reform of the control and enforcement system: "Fisheries control has generally been weak, penalties are not dissuasive and inspections not frequent enough to encourage compliance."
This Green Paper aims to stimulate a debate on the reform in order to provide the Commission with feedback and guide its work. This reform presents a unique opportunity to change the current situation; without it, fish populations and fisheries could suffer dire consequences.

Consultation on the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy

The publication of the Green Paper marks the beginning of a consultation with all stakeholders and the general public that lasts until December 31, 2009. The aim of the consultation is to gather views from all those with an interest in Europe's fisheries on their visions for the future of these fisheries and their ideas on how those visions can become reality. Following the consultation, the Commission will present a CFP reform proposal, which will be adopted in 2012 and will enter into force in 2013.
Take this opportunity to contribute to the future of Europe's fisheries. The Green Paper notes that fish populations and fisheries are in rapid decline, but the situation can only change if we all make our voices heard and participate in this consultation. Don't miss this chance to help reform the CFP and ensure a sustainable fisheries sector for future generations.
How to submit your contribution?
Everyone is invited to contribute to the consultation by offering answers to questions posed in the Green Paper. Contributions should mention the specific section in the Green Paper to which they are referring.

Click here to view the Green Paper
To submit your contribution:
Postal address:

Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries-MARE A
European Commission
99 rue Joseph II
B-1049 Brussels
Contributions will be published on the Commission's website. Reading the specific privacy statement attached to this consultation for information on how your personal data and contribution will be handled is important.

Additional Information from the European Commission about the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP):

Website of the CFP reform:
Consultation on the CFP reform:
About the CFP:
Review of the CFP:
2002 CFP reform:

Profiles on Visions of Common Fisheries Policy Reform

Seafood Choices Alliance asked a number of individuals representing various sectors of the seafood industry to offer their view of the Common Fisheries Policy reform and consultation. The following articles represent the views of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Seafood Choices Alliance. Check Seafood Choices website for more profiles and views on the Common Fisheries Policy Reform.

Tony Long, WWF1. From Tony Long, Executive Director of World Wildlife Fund's European Policy Office

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is encouraged by the unusual degree of official soul-searching that the European Commission has shown earlier this year in opening the consultations on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Civil servants are in effect saying we have got it wrong, our common policy is discredited; we must start again with a "root and branch" reform. If not, then many of our fish populations will be lost forever.  Not the usual bland consultation exercise that one would expect from the European Commission in other words.

Continue reading WWF's vision of CFP reform >

Simon Woodsworth2. From Simon Woodworth, Ex-Coordinator of the Regional Committee for Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture of the Languedoc-Roussillon (CRPMEM LR)

As the second largest fishing fleet in France, the Languedoc-Roussillon has an important responsibility in carrying the French fishing sector towards new goals, such as collective integrated management or even biodiversity conservation. Relying on the ancient Mediterranean tradition of the Prud'homies (small-scale fishermen corporations), it is essential for the fishing sector to become a proper 'manager of the sea', in partnership with public authorities and other stakeholders. Organizations such as the CRPMEM LR support and occasionally coordinate this process.

Continue reading Simon's vision of CFP reform >

Seafood Choices Alliance is an international program that provides leadership and creates opportunities for change across the seafood industry and ocean conservation community. We're about synergies and identifying creative solutions to long-held challenges. By building relationships and stimulating dialogue, Seafood Choices is encouraging and challenging all sectors of the seafood industry along the road toward sustainability.

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