29th June 2011 — The European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament has adopted its proposals for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy ahead of the unveiling of European Commission plans next month.
The declaration was adopted following a debate with UK Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon MP.
ECR fisheries coordinator Marek Gróbarczyk MEP and Vice-President of the EP’s fisheries committee Struan Stevenson MEP welcomed the proposals. Mr Stevenson said:
“The ECR has adopted a robust proposal that devolves fisheries management from Brussels bureaucrats down to the sea basins, and which takes a tough line of fish discards.”
The declaration is below.
The reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has opened up many opportunities for new ideas to devolve responsibility down to the stakeholders and to end the top-down micro-management from Brussels that has bedevilled the sector for decades. It is essential that the reformed CFP should provide a sustainable future for fish stocks and for fishermen and their communities. The Commission will publish their draft proposals in mid 2011 and we should campaign for the following key issues to be included:
1. There must be a clear commitment to devolve day to day fisheries management to the Member States. Conservatives have argued for this for many years. As guardians of the Treaty, the Commission will continue to set the framework for the CFP and provide a basket of management options from which Member States can draw the fisheries management systems most appropriate to their fisheries basin.
2. The main thrust of the reform should be centred round an ecosystem approach and Maximum Sustainable Yields combined with a rights-based management system and multi-annual plans. In order to protect and enshrine the principle of relative stability, rights should be centred on sea basins and not transferable across Member States. Given that around 10% of global landings are now certified or under assessment as sustainable fisheries by the Marine Stewardship Council, Member States should aspire to achieve MSC certification for all EU commercial fisheries.
3. There must be a clear strategy for ending discards. In the EU, this could involve a variety of options including in a mixed fishery some form of ‘Catch Quotas’ or Fisheries Credit System, with fishermen incentivised, combined with the fitting of CCTV. There must also be a clear policy to protect and maintain the inshore fisheries sector involving smaller vessels and to recognise the importance of freshwater fisheries and recreational angling. For smaller boats a ‘days at sea’ mechanism may be simpler to operate and monitor.
4. There must be an improvement to the timing and quality of fisheries science and better co-ordination of activities between fishermen and scientists.
5. There must be a ‘bottom-up’ approach to the designation of MPA’s and to the designation of other areas of estuaries or sea for the construction of energy-related projects, with full implementation of the EU’s IMP spatial-planning strategy and consultation and involvement of the stakeholders.
6. Technical measures should be decided upon at Member State level within a general framework set by the Commission.
7. There should be general guidance on appropriate penalties for breaches of fisheries regulations and criminal activity associated with fishing circulated to Member States by the Commission, to ensure a level playing field in the way courts deal with such offences.
8. IUU fishing must be designated as a criminal activity by all Member States and treated as such by the forces of law & order and the courts.
9. There should be renewed and revitalised support for the EU’s aquaculture sector with harmonised and simplified regulatory controls that enable the sector to compete with producers from outside the EU on an equal basis.
10. International partnership agreements with third countries must combine catch opportunities for EU vessels together with fisheries conservation, jobs for indigenous fishermen, local landings to protect processing jobs and local markets and above all, proper auditing and surveillance.