Radical plans for reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy are due to be adopted by the European Commission on Wednesday 13th July.
The proposals are expected to demand a halt to the overfishing that has devastated stocks, and to limit catches to sustainable levels by 2015. They are likely to include the following key changes:
- An end to micro-management of fisheries from Brussels, with day to day decision-making devolved to regional fisheries bodies across Europe.
- Prohibitions on the discard of fish, which in extreme cases can amount to as much as 80% of a catch.
- Replacement of the annual contest between fisheries ministers over catch quotas with long term management plans based on best scientific evidence.
- Encouragement for Member States to permit the transfer or exchange of fishing rights between owners of large vessels.
- Fishing agreements with developing nations to be put on a sustainable basis by linking them to requirements for scientific assessments and good governance.
Recent academic studies suggest that Europe's fish stocks have been reduced to less than
10% of their post-war levels, and Commissioner Damanaki has warned that 91% of what is left will be at risk within a decade.
Local Euro MP Catherine Bearder, a Vice President of the Parliament's 'Fish for the Future' group, commented:
"Put plain and simply, Europe's fish stocks are at risk of total collapse."
"Fish were once abundant in our waters but unsustainable levels of fishing have done huge damage to this natural resource. We now rely on imports for nearly 70% of the fish we eat."
"When I took a delegation of our local fishing industry to speak to the Commissioner face-to-face, it was clear she had a strong commitment to reforming the Common Fisheries Policy and improving the lives of our fishing communities."
"After all our hard work and lobbying Its great to see the Commissioner has listened to what we've said. But we still need to do more. We must take steps to restore stocks and put more fish back in the sea. That's the way to give a better future for fish and a future for fishermen."
"Our oceans can be replenished and this dire situation be reversed, but we must act now before its too late."