Oceana calls for a new EU Fisheries Policy shaped on science-based ecological sustainability

EU Fisheries ministers will debate today in Vigo (Spain) the outcomes from Fisheries consultation on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy

Press Release Date: May 4, 2010

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: mmadina@oceana.org | tel.: Marta Madina

Oceana hopes that the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is based on a precautionary, science-based approach, as the only way to recover overexploited fish stocks –88% of the total in Europe– and sustain fishing industry on the long-term. The debate on the CFP reform will liven up as from today, when the EU Fisheries Ministers will debate the main outcomes from the 2009 public consultation which attracted more than 400 contributions, including Oceana’s submission and those from the exchange of opinions maintained with stakeholders in the A Coruña conference during 2 and 3 May.


Oceana in its contribution highlighted the need to establish a modern and precautionary science-based EU Ocean policy acknowledging that fisheries is one of the human activities with greatest adverse potential impact on the fragile marine environment. The new CFP should aim at establishing healthy marine ecosystem through adequate measures. Oceana highlights in its submission a number of priority issues, such as the need to increase the surface of Marine Protected Areas, to halt by-catch and discards, to properly implement Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and to control fishing activity in each zone.


“The EU Fisheries ministers must understand that securing a precautionary, ecosystem-based management and ecologically oriented fisheries policy is the only sensible direction to take for shifting towards equitable and sustainable use of living marine resources”, says Xavier Pastor, Executive Director for Oceana Europe.


The radical reform of the EU subsidies is key to attain environmental objectives: considering the chronic overcapacity in the EU fleet and the increased fishing potential (technological creep) associated with vessel modernisation, all effort and capacity enhancing subsidies are unacceptable and must be finally halted as well as financial support for unselective and environmental harmful fishing techniques should be eliminated.


Management and implementation of the present CFP lead to maximization of the use of sea resources at the short-term benefits of the fisheries industry only. Mainly driven by arbitrary political will and un-transparent decision making, the present CFP has contributed directly to the overexploitation of more than 80% of the EU fishing stocks. So far 78% of scientific recommendations on Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quota for fish stocks have been continuously ignored by the EU Fisheries Council and just less than 40% of the EU fisheries are scientifically assessed and managed by means such as Total Allowable Catches (TACs).


The today EU Fisheries Ministers’ first debate on the Reform of the CFP will pave the way for the setting of a new EU Fisheries Policy by 2013. The 2009 Commission Green Paper on the CFP reform made clear that no social and economic development can be attained without ecological sustainability being achieved first, breaking the popular misconception that ocean biological resources are infinite and renewable.


The Fisheries Council won’t be the only political player of the reform process any-longer; the 2009 adoption of the Lisbon Treaty made the European Parliament for the first time co-legislator in fisheries and therefore terminated the traditional Council monopoly on the fate of fish and fishers. A Commission Proposal for a new Fisheries Policy is expected by beginning of 2011, which will be eventually adopted by the European Parliament and Council by end 2012.


Oceana contribution to the CFP reform

Commission staff working document. Synthesis of the Consultation on the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy