News

Proposed Reform of EU Common Fisheries Policy Unveiled

13 July 2011: The European Commission has unveiled its proposals for reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), seeking to secure fish stocks and fishermen's livelihood for the future while putting an end to overfishing and depletion of fish stocks. The reform is expected to lead to a decentralized approach to science-based fisheries management by region and sea basin, and better governance standards in the EU and at the international level through sustainable fisheries agreements.

Specifically, the proposal aims to bring all fish stocks to "sustainable levels" by 2015 - defined as the highest catch that can be taken safely year after year, and which maintains the fish population size at maximum productivity - through multi-year management plans, thus moving away from the current single-stock plans to fisheries-based plans. The proposal anticipates that stocks not included under the multi-year plans will be managed through fixing fishing opportunities by the European Council.

The proposal also calls for: adopting an ecosystem approach for all fisheries, with long-term management plans based on the best available scientific advice; phasing out discards by obliging fishermen to land all the fish caught; setting clear targets and timeframes to stop overfishing; using market-based approaches, such as individual tradable catch shares; adopting support measures for small-scale fisheries, including the extension to 2022 of the right for member States to restrict fishing in a zone within 12 nautical miles of the coastline; improving data collection; providing consumers with better information on the quality and sustainability of fish products; allowing for solutions tailored to regional and local needs; granting financial support only to environmentally-friendly initiatives contributing to smart and sustainable growth; and ruling out any perverse funding of illicit activities or overcapacity. Furthermore, the Commission proposes to introduce, from 2014 onward, a system of transferable catch shares, known as "concessions," for vessels over 12 metres long and all vessels using towed gear.

On the external dimension of the policy, the Commission proposes that the EU promote good governance and sound management within international bodies and in its relations with third countries. Specifically, the EU is expected to drive forward the global and multilateral agenda promoting sustainable fisheries, and lead the process of strengthening the performance of regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) in conserving and managing marine living resources under their purview, including through the introduction of fees for access to the high seas by RFMO members. In addition, the EU will conclude a new type of bilateral fisheries agreement, called Sustainable Fisheries Agreements (SFAs).

The proposal is to be considered by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. The Commission expects it to be adopted and enter into force in January 2013. [EU Press Release] [Questions and Answers on CFP Reform] [European Commission Communication on the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy'] [European Commission Communication on the External Dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy]