Author Archives: Erin Priddle

Breaking down barriers, building up trust: French & UK Channel scallop fisheries are ready for change

Photo: Matt Watson, MSC

Photo: Matt Watson, MSC

Dialogue is often the first step towards change, and is a sign of willingness to cooperate. And there was plenty of it at the Scallop Management Workshop held recently in Brixham, England. The event was organised by WWF and EDF in collaboration with GAP2, a research project funded by the European Commission. The forum provided an inclusive setting to engage industry on design and management of their fishery and to identify opportunities to strengthen the existing management framework.

For the first time, industry participants from both sides of the French/English Channel were in the same room discussing what changes are necessary to achieve greater sustainability for the shared scallop fishery. More than 60 people took time off the water and from their jobs to tackle the management challenge head on.   Appreciating differing perspectives was a central component of the gathering’s success.  It requires a good deal of patience and frankly, courage, when addressing issues of such cultural and economic importance.

"We have heard from scientists in the UK and in France – they are frustrated due to lack of resources from Government departments. Those of us in the industry have said 'we've got the platforms, come out on our boats and gather the data – teach us to become gatherers of data'.

Fishermen are willing to do that, but they need to be guided which takes time and resources…but it can happen, and I think it should happen, and I hope it does happen," said Jim Portus, Chief Exec, South Western Fish Producer Organisation.

It’s important to build on the momentum generated in Brixham with a follow up workshop focused on putting dialogue into action. Ideally, a more tailored group will be able to map out the steps required to inform appropriate management and accountability measures.

Government and scientists will be instrumental in identifying these needs, but the process should be taken forward through a co-managed, bottom-up approach with industry leading the discussions. A collaborative approach is imperative to produce a long-term management plan that achieves genuine sustainability and secures a viable and healthy fishery for now and for the future. We look forward to supporting the next steps of this discussion and learning more about the different needs of stakeholders in this important fishery.

Posted in Europe | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

Sustainable European fisheries depend upon sustainable investment mechanisms

fishing boats, Greece

Fishing Boats in Kos Island, Greece. Photo Credit: Britt Groosman

After years of deliberation, the European Union has finalized proposals to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the EU’s framework for fisheries management. The new policy promises a better future for both fishermen and fish by providing a comprehensive management system designed to restore healthy marine environments while supporting profitable fisheries and thriving coastal communities. The new CFP, which will enter into force in January 2014, calls for Member States to take steps that will ultimately eliminate the wasteful practice of discarding fish at sea. It also requires fishing at sustainable levels by achieving Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), and supports a regionalized approach through decentralized decision-making.

Funding transformative change:

These are ambitious requirements that must be adequately funded in order to achieve the policy objectives outlined by the new agreement. The CFP’s funding instrument – the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) – will provide resources to help fishermen in the transition to sustainable fishing; supporting coastal communities in diversifying their economies; financing projects that create new jobs; and making it easier for fishermen to access adequate financing. The EMFF is being reformed simultaneously with the CFP and in late October the European Parliament voted in plenary on proposed amendments. Overall, the results are positive and outcomes – such as the refusal to subsidize the construction of new vessels and increases in funding for data collection and control of illegal fishing – gives hope that the EMFF will ultimately complement the new CFP and make true transformation possible.

Achieving transparent, well designed allocation systems:

A new CFP requirement, Article 17, mandates that Member States allocate their fishing opportunities (share of overall EU catch limits by stock) using transparent and objective allocation systems that take into consideration environmental and social criteria, as well as historical catch rates. The EMFF amendments voted by the Parliament included a measure to support implementation of this new obligation. Securing a funding mechanism that dovetails with this important new obligation is encouraging and provides an important opportunity for Member States to engage with the fishing sector in designing allocation schemes that are open, transparent and based on objective criteria. We hope the new funding provision is retained in the Trilogue process.

Article 17 of the CFP and its accompanying EMFF funds should motivate Member States to engage with industry to implement innovative allocation systems that accurately reflect the challenges on the water, deliver profitable fisheries, and restore healthy marine environments.  These recent developments dovetail nicely with the UK’s decision to re-allocate some of its fishing opportunities after the recent court case ruled in favor of reallocating quota from the large to small scale fishing sector.

The UK should seize this chance to demonstrate it can be a leader in setting up transparent and secure fishing opportunities that are intelligently designed. Fishing administrations, industry and civil society must all be part of this important dialogue in order to secure smart, sustainable allocation methods and fix broken systems once and for all. Indeed, Member States should start thinking now about introducing transparent stakeholder processes for setting up quota systems, such as those advocated in EDF’s recently released fisheries management toolkit. Fishermen and fisheries managers can consult these resources to design and implement management systems that build resilient, profitable fisheries.

While there is every reason to be optimistic there is still some way to go. Trilogue negotiations on the EMFF between the Parliament and Council will begin this week, with the legislative process expected to conclude before the end of the year. It is essential that the important gains from plenary are not lost in these final weeks.

Posted in Europe, Policy | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

European Maritime Fisheries Fund: Why Investing in Allocation Matters

EU parliament

The EU Parliament will vote in plenary this fall on the EMFF. Photo Credit: Europa.eu

Given scarce resources in the  EU and UK, it’s especially important that fishing privileges are allocated in a way that best serves national sustainability interests—and now is the time to invest. This month, the European Council approved proposals to reform the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the EU’s framework for fisheries management. The new policy calls for Member States to end discarding and restore fisheries to sustainable levels.  It mandates implementation of systems for allocation of fishing opportunities that are transparent and objective, and that take into consideration environmental and social criteria, as well as historical catch rates.

Regrettably, the fisheries policy reforms to the CFP lack the funds necessary to achieve its objectives. Shortly after the policy puzzle pieces fell into place, Parliament’s Fisheries Committee took up the accompanying funding legislation – the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF) –and shot itself in the foot. Unlike the Council of Ministers, the Parliament’s Committee voted not to provide member states, and potentially other stakeholders such as Producer Organizations, with financial support for designing, monitoring and engaging stakeholders in the process of developing fair and transparent allocation schemes.  Instead, the Committee voted to re-institute boat-buying and engine-modernizing subsidies, which undermines sustainability by prodding fishermen to increase their fishing capacity.

Despite this setback, there is cause for optimism concerning member states ability to engage in sustainable investment in the industry.  That is precisely what the UK did, well ahead of the new EU mandate, by recognizing the importance of fair allocation through the reallocation of unused quota from larger to smaller vessels. In advance of any decision to reallocate the unused quota, the UK government carried out a thorough assessment of quota usage and fishing patterns, delivered a detailed economic analysis and conducted comprehensive stakeholder engagement.  The outcome of the court case affirmed the government’s authority to make management decisions about quota allocation and illuminates future possibilities for member states to operate in innovative ways to deliver mutually beneficial solutions for both fishermen and the environment.

While the judgment is celebrated by the UK small scale fleet, this is just the beginning of work to strengthen a policy to maximize return on investment and support sustainable fishing communities and a healthy marine environment. This case illustrates exactly the type of sustainable investment the EMFF should support in covering costs associated with fixing broken systems, helping fisheries in transition, and supporting sustainable communities. It is therefore critical that the EU invests in initiatives that deliver smart, sustainable allocation systems, not in foolish fleet-building. Fortunately, the full Parliament will have a chance to correct these flawed decisions when it takes up the legislation in the fall.

 

Posted in Europe | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed