Category Archives: Europe

European Parliament adopts final piece of CFP reform to fund sustainable fisheries

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Photo: European Commission

Guest author: Erik Lindebo, Brussels

Today the European Parliament adopted the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), which establishes the financial framework for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) for 2014-20. The Council is expected to agree to the text in the coming weeks, after which the new EMFF will be officially adopted by the Institutions and published in the Official Journal in June, at which point it will formally enter into force.

The new EMFF is a clear step in the right direction and should assist Member States and the fishing industry to further reduce unsustainable fishing practices.

It offers financial assistance for a variety of measures aimed at implementing the reformed CFP.   Particularly encouraging is the inclusion of:

  1. Support for investments that enable fishermen to purchase fishing gear and equipment that avoids catching unwanted fish and that facilitates handling, landing and storage of unwanted species. This assistance will provide robust incentives for fishermen to change catching behaviour and ease the overall transition of the fishing industry to more sustainable practises.
  1. Increased earmarking of funds for data collection and control and enforcement activities. As the new CFP is implemented, more and better data will be needed. The funding increase will help.  An enhanced level of collaboration between scientists and fishermen can also be financed to promote innovation and research, which will provide multiple benefits to fishery managers. Resources to properly implement at times costly results-based approaches will deliver collective benefits and provide industry the opportunity to move towards output-driven results with full accountability.
  1. Co-financed pilot projects and increased support for Advisory Councils, Producer Organisations and stakeholder dialogue. As we move towards a more regionalised policy, the significance of such support will only increase, as more bottom-up approaches will need to be developed.
  1. Support for fishing opportunity allocation systems. Rights-based management (RBM) systems will play a vital role in promoting a more adapted, profitable and self-sufficient fishing industry.  Previous results from across the globe demonstrate that considerable time and resources are needed to allow for careful design and stakeholder engagement and input when developing such systems.

The final piece of the puzzle is in place. Let the implementation of the CFP begin!

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Europe opens a new era of fisheries management

 

Lyme Regis fishing boats. Photo Credit: Britt Groosman

Lyme Regis fishing boats. Photo Credit: Britt Groosman

Yesterday, the European Parliament approved the reformed Common Fisheries Policy—the final step in the legislative process heralding a new era in sustainability for European fish stocks.   This formal ‘seal of approval’ from the Parliament mandates an end to overfishing, phasing out discards and restoring depleted fish stocks.

Commissioner Maria Damanaki said: “Today's vote by the European Parliament means that we now have a policy which will radically change our fisheries and will pave the way for a sustainable future for our fishermen and our resources. I am very grateful to both Parliament and Council for their commitment, vision and overall support for the Commission's proposals which mean we can now return to sustainable fishing in the short term and put an end to wasteful practices. The new CFP is a driver for what is most needed in today's Europe: a return to growth and jobs for our coastal communities.”

Commissioner Damanaki deserves a great deal of credit for her tenacity in seeing this deal through to its successful conclusion; both the Commission’s initial proposal and her strong determination to keep reform on track were key factors in the final outcome.

The new CFP will enter into force on 1 January 2014 with some measures in place thereafter, which means there is a lot of work to do to support member states in implementing the new policies. Here are some of the key changes to look for in 2014:

  • The new CFP will manage fish stocks in a far more decentralized way.   Member states will now have the flexibility to innovate and design management approaches to meet their specific needs and support local fishing communities in manners of their choosing, so long as they are consistent with the performance requirements of the new policy.  This autonomy to member states should encourage cooperation among fishermen who target the same species to produce sustainable management plans.
  • EDF is committed to working closely with Member States and fishermen in Europe, providing design guidance and knowledge sharing opportunities to help end overfishing, phase out discards and restore depleted fish stocks.
  • Voluntary rights based management will be a vital tool for many member states’ management toolboxes, since this approach will help meet the dual challenges of phasing out discards and ending overfishing. Meeting these targets will require innovation, willingness to experiment with new management strategies and close collaboration between fishery stakeholders.

To cap off 2013 as Europe’s year of fisheries reform, the negotiators now engaged in finalizing the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) should finalize the EMFF by aligning it with the Common Fisheries Policy: supporting increased investment in management innovation, improved data collection and research, enhanced compliance assurance and enforcement and avoiding harmful subsidies.

European fishermen have every reason to be optimistic that they will soon be leading the way towards a new era in sustainable management and stock recovery.

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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.

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European Maritime Fisheries Fund: Why Investing in Allocation Matters

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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.

 

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Landmark UK court case: Fish quota can be redistributed to smaller vessels

A high court in the UK this week ruled that unused fishing quotas can be redistributed by the government from large scale vessels to smaller ones. Small scale inshore fishermen and fisheries minister Richard Benyon celebrated the decision as bringing added value to coastal communities in the UK.

The judgment affirmed the Ministry’s authority to re-distribute unused quota from the larger fleet to the in-shore, smaller vessels in order to maximize the UK’s share of EU fishery resources. But the case has broader implications, illustrating the importance of transparent and equitable management of the fishing quota system – not only ensuring that allocations are fair, but that the nature and security of those fishing privileges are understood by everyone involved.

The process followed by the Ministry before making the re-allocation – a detailed assessment of quota usage (and non-usage) and extensive public consultation – was cited by the Court and central to the finding that a quota re-alignment was foreseeable by the large-scale fleet, permissible under the law, and in the public’s interest. Yet, the Court also took note of the investments that the previous quota holders and their bankers made in expectation of future fishing activities.

The ruling underscores the need to design allocation privileges in a careful, inclusive manner, including input from all fishery stakeholders, while factoring in social, economic and environmental concerns. The UK's Defra would be wise to start a transparent stakeholder process for the reallocation of the quota as EDF advocates in our Catch Share Design Manual.

 

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NGOs should focus on helping fishermen implement policies

It’s no secret that working directly with fishermen to implement fishery management solutions is the most effective way to support positive change. Recently, we have begun engaging in conversations with fishermen, fishery stakeholders and MEPs on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in Europe. EDF was recently acknowledged in an article in Under Current News for being a leading NGO in European fisheries reform—due in large part to our collaborative approach with fishermen.  Britt Groosman, our EU Program Director, was quoted extensively in this article.

“’EDF has found that the most successful way of working towards fishery management is by consulting fishermen in a participatory process,’ Britt Groosman, program director for EDF in the EU, told Undercurrent. ‘The way to find that out is to talk to all the stakeholders and see what everyone’s concerns are, to try and find a way to get environmental improvement with the buy-in of all the stakeholders involved. Because the more you impose your will on people the more you’ll end up with control issues. People don’t like being told what to do and they’ll try to get around rules. The fishermen are the people who implement the policy on the water, and have the real influence,’ she said.”

Read the full article to learn more about  how we find solutions, at home and abroad, no matter how challenging the problems. Read the full article here.

 

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European Fisheries on the Road to Recovery

A major milestone for the recovery of European fisheries was passed this week when the European Parliament approved a much-needed reform to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by a great majority (502-to-137).

The proposed reforms set strong maximum sustainable yield (MSY) targets—the catch level that can be safely taken each year to maintain the fish population size at maximum productivity. The goal of setting these targets is to allow fish stocks to recover by 2020 at the latest, and to maintain all recovered stocks at this level. Fishing vessels will also be required to land all catches; different fisheries will phase in this change over the coming years, bringing to a halt the wasteful practice of discarding fish. The reforms also call for science based decision making as a foundation for long-term fisheries management planning. And member states will be free to use transferable fishing concessions (TFCs)—known in the United States as “catch shares” – to meet the sustainability goals of the reformed policy. With TFCs European fisheries managers will be better able to reduce discards, improve fishing safety and profitability, and enhance compliance.

The vote marks the first time the European Parliament has been involved in the decision-making process for fisheries policy, and they exercised their new co-decision authority with very positive effect. Now the EU enters the next phase of lawmaking, the ‘trilogue’ with the Parliament, Fisheries Council and European Commission; there is new optimism that a fundamental reform will emerge from these three way negotiations.

And with European Commission figures suggesting that 80% of Mediterranean stocks and 47% of Atlantic stocks are overfished, these new reforms come just in time. This historic step is not only the turning point for Europe’s ailing fisheries;  it also ties in to the Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO) which aims to make 50% of the world’s fisheries sustainably and economically productive within the next 10 years. In order to get us there, we must build on this momentum by ensuring that the European Fisheries Council , Commission and  Parliament  work together to keep the new legislation strong.

 

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